Dr. James M. Dickson – Faculty of Engineering
James M. Dickson

Dr. James M. Dickson


Transfer phenomena in membranes, non-equilibrium molecular dynamic simulations, reverse osmosis, ultrafiltration, novel polymers.
  • Professor Emeritus

    Chemical Engineering


One of the exciting new areas of research in chemical engineering is the development of separation processes based on membrane technology. Processes being investigated in the McMaster Membrane Research Group included reverse osmosis/nanofiltration, ultrafiltration, microfiltration, dialysis, electrodialysis, and pervaporation. Research spans membrane fabrication, modification, characterization, modelling, system design and applications in the water treatment/water purification industries.

1. Mass Transfer in Synthetic Membranes

The basic mechanism of transport of solution components through synthetic membranes is being investigated. This research includes the removal of low molecular weight organic solutes from water by reverse osmosis/nanofiltration and pervaporation.

2. Fabrication of Polymeric Membranes

Membranes are being developed from novel polymeric materials. The emphasis is on the investigation of the fundamentals of membrane formation. Skills involved are casting membranes, membrane modification, evaluation of membrane properties, and examination of the microstructure of membranes using for example, SEM, SEM/EDX, FTIR, NMR and ESCA.

3. System Design and Applications

Theoretical and practical methods of describing membrane systems are being explored. Application of commercial and experimental membranes for specific water treatment and other industries is being investigated. For example, the removal of metal ions and acids from industrial waste streams are being investigated.

4. Pervaporation Membranes

Novel membranes are being developed to remove dilute chlorohydrocarbons from wastewater by selective permeation and vaporization through a polymeric membrane.

5. Controlled Release in Biosystems

Pore-filled membranes are being developed for the controlled release of drugs in biological systems. For instance, a controlled release system is being designed using the pH dependent permeability of pore-filled membranes. Thus, a drug can be protected in a polymeric shell in the stomach and released in the intestines where the pH is higher.

Block Heading

  • B.A.Sc. University of Waterloo (1975)
  • M.A.Sc. University of Waterloo (1977)
  • Ph.D. Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University (1985)


  • Liang, L., Dickson, J.M., Jiang, J., Brook, M.A, “Mass Transfer of Dilute 1,2-Dimethoxyethane Aqueous Solutions during Pervaporation Process” J. Appl. Polym. Sci., 2006, 100, 2075-2084.
  • Mika, A.M., Childs, R.F., Dickson, J.M., “Microporous Membranes and Uses Thereof”, McMaster University, filed PCT, issued Canada Patent 2,268,955, 13 June 2006.
  • Hu, K., Dickson, J.M., “Nanofiltration Membrane Performance on Fluoride Removal from Water”, J. Membr. Sci., 2006, 279, 529-538.
  • Liang, L., Dickson, J.M., Zhu, Z., Jiang, J., Brook, M.A, “Removal of 1,2-Dichloroethane from Aqueous Solutions with Novel Composite Polydimethylsiloxane Pervaporation Membranes”, J. Appl. Polym. Sci., 2005, 98, 1477-1491.
  • Garcia-Aleman, J., Dickson, J.M., Mika, A.M., “Experimental Analysis Modeling, and Theoretical Design of McMaster Pore-filled Nanofiltration Membranes”, J. Membr. Sci., 2004, 240, 237-255.
  • Garcia-Aleman, J., Dickson, J.M., “Mathematical Modeling of Nanofiltration Membranes with Mixed Electrolyte Solutions”, J. Membr. Sci., 2004, 235, 1-13.
  • Jiang, W., Childs, R.F., Mika, A.M., Dickson, J.M., “Pore-filled Cation-exchange Membranes Containing Poly(styrenesulfonic Acid) Gels”, Desalination, 2003, 159, 253-266.
  • Childs, R. F., Weng J., Kim M., Dickson J.M., “Formation of Pore-filled Microfiltration Membranes Using a Combination of Modified Interfacial Polymerization and Grafting” J. Polym. Sci, A. Polym. Chem., 2002, 40, 242-250.
  • Woods, D.R., Kourti, D., Wood, P.E., Sheardown, H., Crowe, C.M., Dickson, J.M., “Assessing Problem Solving Skills. Part 2: Assessing the Process of Problem Solving”, Chem. Eng. Ed., 2002, 36(1), 60-67.
  • Mika, A.M., Childs, R.F., Dickson, J.M., “Salt Separation and Hydrodynamic Permeability of A Porous Membrane Filled with pH Sensitive Gel”, J. Membr. Sci., 2002, 206, 19-30.
  • Ji, J., Dickson, J.M., Childs, R.F., McCarry, B.E., “Mathematical Model for the Formation of Thin-Film Composite Membranes by Interfacial Polymerization. Porous Films and Comparison to Experimental Data”, Macromolecules, 2000, 33, 624-633.
  • Mika, A.M., Childs, R.F., Dickson, J.M., “Ultra-low Pressure Water Softening: A New Approach to Membrane Construction”, Desalination, 1999, 121, 149-158.
  • Rilling, K., Dickson, J.M., Childs, R.F., Gagnon, D.R., “Interfacial Polymerization in a Porous Substrate and Substrates Functionalized with Photochemical Groups”, McMaster University and 3M Company, issued Patent USA 5,627,217, 1997.