Devin Shaffer

Ph.D. Candidate, Chemical and Environmental Engineering, Yale University
M.Eng., Environmental Engineering, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, 2003
B.S., Civil Engineering, Oklahoma State University, 2002


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Devin’s research studies the use of forward osmosis desalination technology to treat highly saline source waters and designs membranes that resist fouling and mineral scaling. His initial work identified applications of forward osmosis that are energetically favorable compared to conventional reverse osmosis and thermal desalination. Specific examples are the treatment of highly saline produced water from oil and gas operations and the desalination of seawater for agricultural irrigation. The increased potential for organic fouling and mineral scaling from these difficult-to-treat water sources was the motivation for his subsequent work fabricating new membranes with improved resistance to fouling and scaling. Using surface grafting techniques and molecular layer-by-layer deposition, he studied the fouling and scaling resistance of polyamide membranes with different surface properties.

Currently, Devin is applying neutron radiography measurement tools to the study of membrane transport in collaboration with researchers at the National Institute of Standards and Technology. He is investigating the validity of the common transport model for forward osmosis permeation using direct observations of lithium chloride salt concentrations across membranes during permeation. Before joining the Elimelech Research Group, Devin worked for an engineering consulting firm in Phoenix, Arizona, where he designed solutions to water and wastewater infrastructure challenges facing municipalities across the state. Outside of the lab, he enjoys running, yoga, and breakfast burritos.


pdfs and supporting information for group publications available on the main publications page.
  1. Shaffer, D.L., Jaramillo, H., Romero-Vargas Castrillón, S., Lu, X., & Elimelech, M. "Post-fabrication modification of forward osmosis membranes with a poly(ethylene glycol) block copolymer for improved organic fouling resistance." Journal of Membrane Science, Volume 490. September 2015. pages 209-219. 
  2. Shaffer, D.L., Werber, J.R., Jaramillo, H., Lin, S., & Elimelech, M. "Forward osmosis: Where are we now?" Desalination, Volume 356. January 2015. pages 271-284. 
  3. Phuntsho, S., Lotfi, F., Hong, S., Shaffer, D.L., Elimelech, M., Shon, H.K. "Membrane scaling and flux decline during fertiliser-drawn forward osmosis desalination of brackish groundwater." Water Research, Volume 57, March 2014, pages 172-182. 
  4. Romero-Vargas Castrillón, S., Lu, X., Shaffer, D.L., and Elimelech, M. "Amine Enrichment and Poly(ethylene glycol) (PEG) Surface Modification of Thin-Film Composite Forward Osmosis Membranes for Organic Fouling Control", Journal of Membrane Science, Volume 450, January 2014, pages 331–339.
  5. Lu, X., Romero-Vargas Castrillón, S., Shaffer, D.L., Ma, J., and Elimelech, M. "In Situ Surface Chemical Modification of Thin-Film Composite Forward Osmosis Membranes for Enhanced Organic Fouling Resistance", Environmental Science & Technology, Volume 47, November 2013, pages 12219–12228.
  6. Shaffer, D.L., Arias Chavez, L.H., Ben-Sasson, M., Romero-Vargas Castrillon, S., Yip, N.Y., and Elimelech, M. "Desalination and Reuse of High-Salinity Shale Gas Produced Water: Drivers, Technologies, and Future Directions" Environmental Science & Technology, Volume 47, September 2013, pages 9569–9583.
  7. Shaffer, D.L., Yip, N.Y., Gilron J., and Elimelech, M. "Seawater desalination for agriculture by integrated forward and reverse osmosis: Improved product water quality for potentially less energy.” Journal of Membrane Science, Volume 415-416, October 2012, pages 1-8.