Jian-Yuan LEE, PhD in Sustainable Earth (Singapore)

Lee Jian Yuan

Jian-Yuan holds a Bachelor of Science with concentration in Green Chemistry. He is a Research Scientist and Nanyang President’s Graduate Scholar, focusing on Sustainable Earth at NTU. His interest lies in sustainable chemistry, material science, 3D printing and water technology. His research aim is to lower clean water production costs via applying Engineered Osmosis (EO), a state-of-the-art desalination process.

Current position: Research Scientist at the Singapore Centre for 3D Printing & Nanyang Environment & Water Research Institute. PhD Candidate at Interdisciplinary Graduate School and Nanyang Technological University, Singapore

Research focus: Materials science and engineering, chemistry and biological chemistry, 3D Printing, membrane technology

Jian-Yuan is currently working on 3D printed spacers using additive manufacturing technology, to address the problem of external concentration polarization, a ubiquitous problem occurring in all the membrane processes.

In 2014 Jian-Yuan became a Green Talent. The jury honoured his idea to become a successful ‘technopreneur’ who establishes sustainable technology in new start-up businesses or as a commercial product in the market. He has won several international awards.

2016 Best Poster Award at Singapore International Water Week
2015 Best Paper Award and PhD Student Travel Award from European Membrane Society (EMS)
2015 Student Fellowship Award from North American Membrane Society (NAMS)
2012 Nanyang President’s Graduate Scholarship Award

CV as submitted for the Green Talents award (2014):


Research focus: Interdisciplinary focus on sustainable chemistry, material science and water technology

Lowering the cost of producing clean water through a new desalination process, Jian-Yuan Lee’s PhD research project has the potential to become a widely used sustainable technology.

Applying the concept of sustainable chemistry (or “green chemistry”) to sustainable desalination research, doctoral student Jian-Yuan is helping the process of Engineered Osmosis (EO) overcome its most serious challenge. EO is a state-of-the-art desalination method that relies on “osmotically-driven membrane technology”. Jian-Yuan explains that, “compared to conventional pressure-driven membrane processes, EO can significantly lower the energy consumption of the process by up to 30% and hence lower the cost of producing clean water”.

Though EO is a potentially revolutionary technology, it faces some serious challenges. Foremost among them, explains Jian-Yuan, “is the internal concentration polarisation (ICP), a unique problem occurring only in osmotically-driven membrane processes, which will significantly reduce the effective osmotic pressure difference across membranes”. In order to address this problem, Jian-Yuan is fabricating a new type of porous matrix membrane (PMM), “using a benign and environmentally-friendly metal-organic framework (MOF) as a green template to provide an alternative green material for macropores formation inside the EO substrate layer. This will be beneficial in reducing the effect of ICP and eliminating the cost of using toxic chemicals as etching solutions”. These MOFs can then easily be removed using only water. “I am confident that my work will help in the continued affordability of water in a sustainable fashion,” says Jian-Yuan, “as ICP is still considered the most critical barrier amid the increasing market share of EO membrane processes in the field of sustainable desalination and water reclamation.”

The jury is convinced that Jian-Yuan will benefit greatly from an exchange of ideas during the Green Talents Forum, both with German experts in his field and with his fellow Awardees. They were also impressed with his entrepreneurial spirit. Jian-Yuan says: “My goal is to become a successful ‘technopreneur’ - an entrepreneur involved with sustainable technology - to transform it into a new start-up business or commercial product in the market.”