Back to Faculty Directory
Photo of Freeman, Benny
Office Location: EER 4.614B

Benny Freeman


William J. (Bill) Murray, Jr. Endowed Chair in Engineering

Department Research Areas:
Advanced Materials, Polymers and Nanotechnology
Environmental Engineering

Research Website

Presentation Made to Prospective Graduate Students

Educational Qualifications

Department of Chemical Engineering, NC State University (1989-2002)
NATO Postdoctoral Fellow, Ecole Supérieure de Physique et de Chimie Industrielles de la Ville de Paris, Laboratoire Physico-Chimie Structurale et Macromoléculaire, Paris, France (1988-1989)
Ph.D., Chemical Engineering, University of California, Berkeley (1988)
B.S., Chemical Engineering, NC State University (1983)


My research program explores the relationship between polymer structure, processing and properties. More specifically, we study the effect of polymer structure on the solubility, diffusivity, and permeability of small molecules in polymers and polymer-based materials. These fundamental studies bear directly upon membranes for liquid, gas, and vapor separations; controlled drug delivery devices and techniques; barrier plastics for food and specialty packaging; monomer and solvent removal from formed polymers; and physical aging of glassy polymeric materials and membranes.

Current projects

  • Next Generation Gas Separation Membrane Materials
  • Bioinspired Membranes to Control Fouling of Water Purification Membranes
  • Fundamentals of Water and Ion Transport in Membranes to Water Purification
  • Fundamentals of Fouling of Porous Membranes for Water Purification

Awards & Honors

  • Braskem Award for Excellent in Materials Engineering and Science, 2023
  • National Academy of Engineering, 2023
  • North American Membrane Society (NAMS) Fellow, 2017
  • Fulbright Distinguished Chair in Disruptive Separations, Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO), 2016-2017
  • PMSE Distinguished Service Award (Polymeric Materials: Science and Engineering Division of ACS), 2015
  • World Premier International (WPI) Professor of International Institute for Carbon-Neutral Energy Research (I²CNER) at Kyushu University, Japan, 2014 – present
  • AIChE Clarence (Larry) G. Gerhold Award, 2013
  • Joe J. King Professional Engineering Achievement Award, 2013
  • Society of Plastics Engineers’ Lifetime Achievement Award, 2013
  • Roy W. Tess Award in Coatings (PMSE Division of ACS), 2012
  • Member, Editorial Board, Polymer, 2011-present
  • ACS Award in Applied Polymer Science, 2009
  • AIChE Institute Award for Excellence in Industrial Gases Technology, 2008
  • IBM Faculty Award, 2008
  • Associate Editor, Industrial & Engineering Chemistry Research, 2007 – present
  • University CO-OP Research Excellence Award for Best Research Paper, 2006
  • Member, Editorial Board, Journal of Membrane Science, 2005 – present
  • Member, Editorial Board, Journal of Applied Membrane Science and Technology, 2005 – present
  • Member, International Editorial Advisory Board, Membrane Journal and Korean Membrane Journal, 2003-present
  • ACS PMSE Cooperative Research Award in Polymer Science, 2001
  • Strategic Environmental Research and Development Project of the Year Award, 2001
  • Fellow of the ACS, AIChE, AAAS, PMSE Division of the ACS, and the IECR Division of the ACS

Selected Publications

  • Galizia, M., W.S. Chi, Z.P. Smith, T.C. Merkel, R.W. Baker, and B.D. Freeman, “Polymers and Mixed Matrix Membranes for Gas and Vapor Separation: a Review and Prospective Opportunities,” Macromolecules, in press.
  • Park, H.B., J. Kamcev, L.M. Robeson, M. Elimelech, and B.D. Freeman, “Maximizing the Right Stuff: The Tradeoff Between Membrane Permeability and Selectivity,” Science356(6343), eaab0530 (2017).
  • Miller, D.J., D.R. Dreyer, C.W. Bielawski, D.R. Paul, and B.D. Freeman, “Surface Modification of Water Purification Membranes: A Review,” Angewandte Chemie International Edition56, 4662-4711 (2017).
  • Kamcev, J., and B.D. Freeman, “Charged Polymer Membranes for Environmental/Energy Applications,” Annual Review of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering7(1), 4.1-4.23 (2016).
  • Kamcev, J., and B.D. Freeman, “Cracks Help Membranes to Stay Hydrated,” Nature532, 445-6 (2016).
  • Kamcev, J., M. Galizia, F.M. Benedetti, E.-S. Jang, D.R. Paul, B.D. Freeman, and G.S. Manning, “Partitioning of Mobile Ions Between Ion Exchange Polymers and Aqueous Salt Solutions: Importance of Counter-ion Condensation,” Physical Chemistry Chemical Physics18, 6021-6031 (2016).
  • Kamcev, J., D.R. Paul, and B.D. Freeman, “Ion Activity Coefficients in Ion Exchange Polymers: Applicability of Manning’s Counter-ion Condensation Theory,” Macromolecules48(21), 8011-8024 (2015).
  • Smith, Z.P., G. Hernández, K.L. Gleason, A. Anand, C.M. Doherty, K. Konstas, C. Alvarez, A.J. Hill, A.E. Lozano, D.R. Paul, and B.D. Freeman, “Effect of Polymer Structure on Gas Transport Properties of Selected Aromatic Polyimides, Polyamides and TR Polymers,” Journal of Membrane Science493, 766-781 (2015).
  • Robeson, L.R. Q. Liu, B.D. Freeman, and D.R. Paul, “Comparison of Transport Properties of Rubbery and Glassy Polymers and the Relevance to the Upper Bound Relationship,” Journal of Membrane Science476, 421-431 (2015).
  • Miller, D.J., S. Kasemset, D.R. Paul, and B.D. Freeman, “Comparison of Membrane Fouling at Constant Flux and at Constant Transmembrane Pressure,” Journal of Membrane Science454, 505-515 (2014).
  • Geise, G.M., D.R. Paul, and B.D. Freeman, “Fundamental Water and Salt Transport Properties in Polymeric Materials,” Progress in Polymer Science39, 1-42 (2014).
  • Robeson, L.M., Z.P. Smith, B.D. Freeman and D.R. Paul, “Contributions of Diffusion and Solubility Selectivity to the Upper Bound Analysis for Glassy Gas Separation Membranes,” Journal of Membrane Science453, 71-83 (2014).
  • Dreyer, D.R., D.J. Miller, B.D. Freeman, D.R. Paul, and C.W. Bielawski, “Perspectives on Poly(dopamine),” Chemical Science4(10), 3796-3802 (2013).
  • Sanders, D.F., Z.P. Smith, R. Guo, L.M. Robeson, J.E. McGrath, D.R. Paul, and B.D. Freeman, “Energy Efficient Polymeric Gas Separation Membranes for a Sustainable Future:  A Review,” Polymer54, 4729-4761 (2013).
  • Miller, D.J., X. Huang, H. Li, S. Kasemset, A. Lee, D. Agnihotri, T. Hayes, D.R. Paul, and B.D. Freeman, “Fouling-Resistant Membranes for the Treatment of Flowback Water from Hydraulic Shale Fracturing: a Pilot Study,” Journal of Membrane Science437, 265-275 (2013).
  • La, Y.-H., J. Diep, R. Al-Rasheed, D. Miller, L. Krupp, G.M. Geise, A. Vora, B. Davis, M. Nassar, B.D. Freeman, M. McNeil, and G. Dubois, “Enhanced Desalination Performance of Polyamide Bi-layer Membranes Prepared by Sequential Interfacial Polymerization,” Journal of Membrane Science437, 33-39 (2013).
  • Dreyer, D.R., D.J. Miller, B.D. Freeman, D.R. Paul, and C.W. Bielawski, “Elucidating the Structure of Poly(dopamine),” Langmuir, 28, 6428-6435 (2012).
  • Geise, G.M., H.B. Park, A.C. Sagle, B.D. Freeman, and J.E. McGrath, “Water Permeability and Water/Salt Selectivity Tradeoff in Polymers for Desalination,” Journal of Membrane Science, 369(1-2), 130-138 (2011).
  • Wang, H., J.K. Keum, A. Hiltner, E. Baer, B. Freeman, A. Rozanski, and A. Galeski, “Confined Crystallization of Polyethylene Oxide in Nanolayer Assemblies,” Science323, 757-760 (2009).
  • Greenlee, L.F., D.F. Lawler, B.D. Freeman, B. Marrot, and P. Moulin, “Reverse Osmosis Desalination:  Water Sources, Technology and Today’s Challenges,” Water Research, 43(9), 2317-2348 (2009).
  • Park, H.B., B.D. Freeman, Z-B. Zhang, M. Sankir, and J.E. McGrath, “Highly Chlorine-Tolerant Polymers for Desalination,” Angewandte Chemie, 120(32), 6108-6113 (2008).
  • Park, H.B., C.H. Jung, Y.M. Lee, A.J. Hill, S.J. Pas, S.T. Mudie, E. van Wagner, B.D. Freeman, and D.J. Cookson, “Polymers with Cavities Tuned for Fast, Selective Transport of Small Molecules and Ions,” Science318, 254-258 (2007).
  • Lin, H., E. van Wagner, B.D. Freeman, L.G. Toy, and R.P. Gupta, “Plasticization-Enhanced H2 Purification Using Polymeric Membranes,” Science, 311(5761), 639-642 (2006).
  • Merkel, T.C., B.D. Freeman, R.J. Spontak, Z. He, I. Pinnau, P. Meakin and A.J. Hill, “Ultrapermeable, Reverse-Selective Nanocomposite Membranes”, Science, 296, 519-522 (2002).
  • K. Nagai, T. Masuda, T. Nakagawa, B.D. Freeman, and I. Pinnau, “Poly[1-(trimethylsilyl)-1-propyne] and Related Polymers: Synthesis, Properties, and Functions,” Progress in Polymer Science26, 721-798 (2001).
  • Freeman, B.D., “Basis of Permeability/Selectivity Tradeoff Relations in Polymeric Gas Separation Membranes,” Macromolecules32, 375-380 (1999).