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The Films and Inorganic Membrane Laboratory (FIMLab) was founded in 2006 by Professor Joe da Costa as a specialised offshoot of the University of Queensland division of the Australian Research Council Centre of Excellence for Functional Nanomaterials (ARCCFN) headed by Professor Max Lu.

FIMLab has now grown to be one of the premier research laboratories of inorganic membrane technology in Australia, focusing on applications of inorganic membrane technology such as gas separation and membrane reactors at high temperatures, various liquid separations, and desalination.

FIMLab’s research projects centre around the application of inorganic membranes for fluid separation applications by utilising the inherent advantages of inorganic materials at certain conditions, including high temperature and chemical resistances. Starting with research into hydrogen purification from gasifcation syngas (H2/CO2/CO) and the separation of oxygen from air, FIMLab has expanded into the research areas of membrane reactors for the water gas shift reaction, ethanol dehydration, and desalination.

Silica Membranes for High Temperature H2/CO2/CO separation

Silica Membrane Reactors for Water Gas Shift Reaction

Silica Membranes for Desalination

Perovskite Membranes for Air Separation

Carbon Molecular Seive Membranes for Ethanol Dehydration

Scale Up of Membrane Reactors and Separation UnitsCarbon Capture by Adsorption

FIMLab at the University of Queensland and the Forschungszentrum Jlich (Research Centre Jlich or FZJ) in Germany a member of the Helmholtz Research Centres, have embarked on a joint research and development collaborative effort. This project represents a strategic alliance between excellent research teams with complementary skills and expertise.

The overall aim of this project is to deliver nanostructured membranes on porous metal substrates for high temperature gas separation, this combination is hoped to address the current limitations of the technology in this field, including:

Economical and reliable sealing technology for gas tight systems operating at high temperature.

Simple scale up of membrane systems

Stability of metal oxide layers for industrial applications.

FZJ contributes to the project through their knowledge of ceramic coating technology and porous metal substrates, while FIMLab supply our nanostructured molecular sieve silica membrane technology.

One of the most recent membranes to be produced through this collaboration was tested for over 1100 hours in a flue gas stream of the EnBW Rheinhafenkraftwerk Karlsruhe coal fired power plant. The flue gas stream consisted of CO2 and N2 and the membrane operated within expected parameters at all times. These results are extremely promising and demonstrate the strength of the research teams involved.

FIMLab supports our PhD students in visiting other universities and research centres. This helps to expand their knowledge, world view and offers them a chance to work with other world experts in the field outside their normal environment at UQ. This collaboration with FZJ has so far seen three PhD students spend time at their partner institute (two students from FZJ have visited FIMLab and one student from FIMLab has visited FZJ). Images from:

Presentation by Martin Bram and Wilhelm Meulenberg of FZJ

Brands, K., Uhlmann, D., Smart,
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S., Bram, M. and Diniz da Costa, J. C. (2010) Long term flue gas exposure effects of silica membranes on porous steel substrate. Journal of Membrane Science, 2591 2:110 114

The students and staff are encouraged to attend an international conference relevant to their research area. In particular each phD student is afforded to attend at least one international conference as a part of their study. FIMLab has shown a continued presence at membrane conferences such as:

13th International Conference on Inorganic Membranes (ICIM), Brisbane, Australia, 6 9 July 2014

8th International Membrane Science and Technology Conference (IMSTEC), Melbourne, Australia, 25 29 November 2013

Euromembrane 2012, London (United Kingdom), 23 27 September 2012

2nd Annual Early Career Researchers Membrane Symposium, South Australia, 23 25 November 2011

the main lab (or “level 5”) dedicated to membrane synthesis, permeation testing, and the characterisation of membranes and xerogels
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