Anthony Straub

Ph.D. Candidate, Chemical and Environmental Engineering, Yale University
B.S. Civil and Environmental Engineering, University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign, 2012


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Tony Straub is a doctoral candidate advised by Menachem Elimelech in the Department of Chemical and Environmental Engineering. His research focuses on developing membrane-based technologies to produce energy from salinity gradients and low-grade heat. He is broadly interested in topics such as ion and water transport through polymeric membranes, fabricating improved membranes with tailored surface functionality, and theoretical system modeling.

During much of his time at Yale, Tony has conducted research on pressure-retarded osmosis (PRO), a process that produces electric power by harnessing the energy released when a low-salinity solution mixes with a higher salinity solution. In the case of river water flowing into the ocean, the amount of energy released is substantial, equal to 270 m of hydraulic head. Tony has experimentally demonstrated dramatically improved performance of PRO using hypersaline brines, and has also investigated how membrane transport properties change during operation. Alongside experimental work, he has conducted modeling to identify the amount of energy extractable from salinity gradient sources and the overall viability of the process.

Tony also works to fabricate improved hydrophobic membranes by adding nanostructures and modifying the surface with fluorinated compounds. These robust hydrophobic membranes can offer improve performance in membrane distillation.

While completing his undergraduate degree in Civil and Environmental Engineering at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign, Tony conducted research on a variety of topics ranging from solar disinfection to slow sand filtration and worked on international development projects, traveling to Guatemala, Cameroon, and Kenya. Tony also spent two summers at Ben-Gurion University of the Negev in Israel as a research intern working on the development of low-fouling ultrafiltration membranes.


pdfs and supporting information for group publications available on the main publications page.
  1. Bar-Zeev, E., Perreault, F., Straub, A.P., & Elimelech, M. "Impaired Performance of Pressure-Retarded Osmosis due to Irreversible Biofouling" Environmental Science & Technology, In press.  DOI: 10.1021/acs.est.5b03523
  2. Straub, A.P., Osuji, C.O., Cath, T.Y., & Elimelech, M. "Selectivity and Mass Transfer Limitations in Pressure-Retarded Osmosis at High Concentrations and Increased Operating Pressures." Environmental Science & Technology, In press.  DOI: 10.1021/acs.est.5b01317
  3. Straub, A.P., Lin, S., and Elimelech, M. "Module-Scale Analysis of Pressure Retarded Osmosis: Performance Limitations and Implications for Full-Scale Operation." Environmental Science & Technology, Volume 48. October 2014. pages 12435-12444.  DOI: 10.1021/es503790k
  4. Lin, S., Straub, A.P., Elimelech, M. "Thermodynamic Limits of Extractable Energy by Pressure Retarded Osmosis." Energy & Environmental Science. Volume 7, August 2014, pages 2706-2714.  DOI: 10.1039/C4EE01020E 
  5. Wang, H., Narihiro, T., Straub, A.P., Pugh, C.R., Tamaki, H., Moor, J.F., Bradley, I.M., Kamagata, Y., Liu, W.T., Nguyen, T.H. “MS2 Bacteriophage Reduction and Microbial Communities in Biosand Filters.” Environmental Science & Technology, Volume 28, June 2014, pages 6702–9.
  6. Straub, A.P., Yip, N.Y., and Elimelech, M. "Raising the Bar: Increased Hydraulic Pressure Allows Unprecedented High Power Densities in Pressure-Retarded Osmosis." Environmental Science & Technology Letters, Volume 1, November 2013, pages 55-59.  DOI: 10.1021/ez400117d
  7. Tiraferri, A., Yip, N.Y., Straub, A.P., Romero-Vargas Castrillon, S., and Elimelech, M. "A Method for the Simultaneous Determination of Transport and Structural Parameters of Forward Osmosis Membranes." Journal of Membrane Science, Volume 444, October 2013, pages 523–538.  DOI: 10.1016/j.memsci.2013.05.023 
  8. Bradley, I., Straub, A.P., Maraccini, P., Markazi, S., & Nguyen, T. H. "Iron oxide amended biosand filters for virus removal." Water Research, Volume 45, 2011, pages 4501-10.
  9. Romero, O.C., Straub, A.P., Kohn, T., Nguyen, T.H. "Role of Temperature and Suwannee River Natural Organic Matter on Inactivation Kinetics of Rotavirus and Bacteriophage MS2 by Solar Irradiation." Environmental Science and Technology, Volume 45, 2011, pages 10385-10393.