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 Shaffer is a Ph.D. candidate in his third year with the Elimelech Research Group at Yale University. His research aims to understand the mechanisms of membrane scaling and to develop scaling-resistant forward osmosis membranes and effective scaling control strategies. The motivation for his work is the concept of forward osmosis as a pretreatment technology for conventional thermal and membrane desalination processes. Inorganic scaling can limit the performance of these conventional desalination processes by restricting operating temperatures and pressures, and forward osmosis pretreatment is a promising scaling control strategy. Devin seeks to advance forward osmosis as a pretreatment technology by improving understanding of membrane scaling and by designing scaling-resistant forward osmosis membranes.

Devin’s research focuses on modifying the chemistry and topography of membrane surfaces to resist scaling by surface crystallization and bulk deposition. In earlier work, he studied different membrane modification techniques that employed poly(ethylene glycol) polymer derivatives to improve membrane resistance to organic foulants. The development of scaling and fouling resistant forward osmosis membranes is especially relevant for the application of forward osmosis pretreatment to inland desalination applications that operate at high system recoveries, such as desalination of produced water from oil and gas operations.

Before joining the Elimelech Research Group, Devin worked for an engineering consulting firm in Phoenix, Arizona, where he designed and implemented solutions to water and wastewater infrastructure challenges facing municipalities across Arizona. He was inspired to return to graduate school to contribute to technological innovations in membrane desalination that can create new, high-quality, more sustainable water supplies.


pdfs and supporting information for group publications available on the main publications page.
  1. 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. 
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. 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.