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Dr. Srinivasa Sourirajan, father of reverse osmosis, passed away

  • Dr. Srinivasa Sourirajan, father of reverse osmosis, passed away

The talented scientist known as the father of reverse osmosis, Dr. Srinivasa Sourirajan, passed away in Canada last February, reports the Ottawa Citizen. His work contributed to addressing some of the most pressing issues of our time, including a breakthrough that would allow water desalination by reverse osmosis.

Born in rural India in 1923, he received a PhD in chemistry in post-colonial India, and his research brought him to Yale University for another doctorate in chemical engineering. Moving on to UCLA, he made important contributions in different areas, including geophysics, catalysis and, most notably, he developed cellulose acetate membranes for desalination by reverse osmosis together with Dr Sidney Loeb. The invention triggered the large-scale industrialization of membrane separation processes, and Dr. Loeb then built the world's first commercial RO desalination plant in Coalinga, California.

Dr. Sourirajan moved to Canada in 1961, where he worked as a researcher at the National Research Council (NRC) for 25 years. Thanks to his work, in the 1960s the NRC became an international hub for membrane research, drawing the best scientists from all over the world. His work also inspired industrial uses of reverse osmosis by companies like Dupont.

Nominated to the Nobel Prize in Chemistry three times, Dr. Sourirajan received numerous honors for his accomplishments. They include an Honorary Doctorate Degree by the University of Ottawa in 1994 and becoming part of the American Membrane Technology Association's Hall of Fame in 2016. He was recognized as one of the top chemical engineers of the 20th century by the Canadian Chemical Engineering Conference.

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