Address and Contact Details


Functional Membrane and Energy Materials Group

Department of Chemical Engineering
Barrer Centre
Imperial College London 
South Kensington Campus
London SW7 2AZ United Kingdom
TEL: +44 20 7594 5623

Personal Website:
Group Website:

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Professional Experience

2016 - present    Lecturer at Department of Chemical Engineering, Imperial College London
                            Research theme leader, The Barrer Centre, Imperial College London
2014-2016           Imperial College Junior Research Fellow
2013-2014           Postdoctoral Research Associate, Cavendish Laboratory, University of Cambridge
2010-2014           PhD in Physics, Cavendish Laboratory, University of Cambridge
2009-2010          PhD in Chemical Engineering (transferred after one year), Department of Chemical Engineering, University of Cambridge
2006-2009          MEng in Energy & Environmental Engineering, School of Energy and Environment, Southeast University
2002-2006          BEng, School of Energy and Environment, Southeast University

Research Interests

His current research interests are focused on functional nanoporous materials and applications in separations, catalysis, and battery technology for energy conversion and storage, aiming to solve global challenges in energy, environment, and sustainability. 

  • Design and synthesis of functional polymers and nanomaterials
  • Membrane separation process for gas separation, water purification, and chemical separation
  • Advanced materials and battery technology for energy conversion and storage
  • Heterogeneous catalysis and gas-solid reaction engineering for renewable fuel production

Research Experience

Dr Song has a multidisciplinary academic background with training and research experiences in energy and power engineering, environmental engineering, chemical engineering, polymer physics, materials chemistry, and nanotechnology.

He received Bachelor's degree in School of Energy and Environment at Southeast University (Nanjing) in 2006. Afterwards, he stayed working with Prof. Rui Xiao on clean energy, catalysis, and low-carbon combustion technology, and obtained Master’s degree in Energy & Environmental Engineering in 2009. His MSc research involved several projects and led to two Chinese patents and 16 co-author papers published in leading journals in the chemical engineering field, including Combustion and Flame (20102011), the top journal in combustion field.

In October 2009, he joined the Combustion Group led by Prof. John Dennis in the Department of Chemical Engineering at University of Cambridge as a postgraduate student. He developed his independent approach to the synthesis of layered double hydroxides and derived nanostructured metal oxides for energy applications (Energy Environ. Sci. 2013). In October 2010, he moved to the Cavendish Laboratory and completed a PhD in Physics with Dr. Easan Sivaniah (now at Kyoto University), and in collaboration with Prof. Eugene Terentjev at the Cavendish Laboratory and Prof. Anthony K. Cheetham FRS in the Department of Materials Science and Metallurgy. He passed his PhD viva in February 2014, and continued as a Postdoctoral Research Associate at the Cavendish Laboratory. During his PhD and Postdoc research, he worked on several types of cutting-edge microporous materials and their applications in membranes for gas separations, notably metal-organic frameworks (MOFs) based polymer composites (Energy Environ. Sci. 2012Nature Energy 2017), polymers of intrinsic microporosity (PIMs) (Nature Communications, 2013;  Nature Communications, 2014Journal of Materials Chemistry A, 2016),  polyamide desalination membranes (Journal of Membrane Science, 2015), and novel porous molecular materials known as porous organic cages (Advanced Materials, 2016Angew. Chem. Int. Ed., 2017) in collaboration with the group of Prof. Andrew I. Cooper FRS at University of Liverpool. 

In November 2014, he joined the Department of Chemical Engineering at Imperial College London in November 2014 to pursue an independent research programme with an award of Imperial College Junior Research Fellowship. He collaborated with Prof. Andrew G. Livingston FREng on microporous polymer nanofilm membranes (Nature Materials, 2016). 

In August 2016, Dr Qilei Song started his independent academic career as a Lecturer in the Department of Chemical Engineering and initiated new research in energy materials and batteries for energy conversion and storage. He remains interested in membrane separation research and is one of the principal investigators at the Barrer Centre, a new research centre performing world-leading research in separation materials and membrane technology. He is a visiting researcher in the Department of Materials Science and Metallurgy at Cambridge University, and a visiting researcher at Southeast University. 

Selected Publications

  1. Shan Jiang, Qilei Song,* Alan Massey, Samantha Y. Chong, Linjiang Chen, Shijing Sun, Tom Hasell,* Rasmita Raval, Easan Sivaniah, Anthony K. Cheetham, Andrew I. Cooper*, Oriented Two-Dimensional Porous Organic Cage CrystalsAngew. chem. Int. Ed., 2017, 56, 9391–9395.
  2. Ghalei B, Sakurai K, Kinoshita Y, Wakimoto K, Pournaghshband Isfahani A, Song Q, Doitomi K, Furukawa S, Hirao H, Kusuda H, Kitagawa S, Sivaniah EEnhanced selectivity in mixed matrix membranes for CO2 capture through efficient dispersion of amine-functionalised MOF nanoparticlesNature Energy. 2017, 2, Article number: 17086.
  3. Maria Jimenez-Solomon+Qilei Song+, Kim Jelfs, Marta Munoz-Ibanez, Andrew Livingston*. Polymer nanofilms with enhanced microporosityNature Materials. 2016. 15, 760-767. (+Contributed equally).
  4. Y. Rong, Q. Song, K. Mathwig, E. Madrid, D. He, R. G. Niemann, P. J. Cameron, S. EC Dale, S. Bending, M. Carta, R. Malpass-Evans, N. B. McKeown, F. Marken. pH-induced reversal of ionic diode polarity in 300nm thin membranes based on a polymer of intrinsic microporosityElectrochemistry Communications, 2016, 69, 41-45.
  5. Q. Song, S. Jiang, T. Hasell, M. Liu, S. Sun, A.K. Cheetham, E. Sivaniah, A.I. Cooper. Porous Organic Cage Thin Films and Molecular-Sieving MembranesAdvanced Materials. 2016, 13, 2629-2637. 
  6. Q. Song*, S. Cao, R.H. Pritchard, H. Qiblawey, E.M. Terentjev, A.K. Cheetham, and E. Sivaniah. Nanofiller-tuned microporous polymer molecular sieves for energy and environmental processesJournal of Materials Chemistry A 2016,4, 270-279.
  7. Q. Song, S. Cao, R.H. Pritchard, B. Ghalei, S.A. Al-Muhtaseb, E.M. Terentjev, A.K. Cheetham, and E. Sivaniah. Controlled thermal oxidative crosslinking of polymers of intrinsic microporosity towards tunable molecular sieve membranesNature Communications, 2014, 5, article number 4813.
  8. Q. Song, S. Cao, P. Zavala-Rivera, L.P. Lu, W. Li, Y. Ji, S.A. Al-Muhtaseb, A.K. Cheetham and E. Sivaniah. Photo-oxidative enhancement of polymeric molecular sieve membranesNature Communications, 2013, 4, article number 1918. 
  9. Q. Song*, W. Liu, C. D. Bohn, R. N. Harper, E. Sivaniah, S. A. Scott and J. S. Dennis. A high performance oxygen storage material for chemical looping processes with CO2 capture, Energy & Environmental Science, 2013, 6, 288-298.
  10. Q. Song, S. K. Nataraj, M. V. Roussenova, J. C. Tan, D. J. Hughes, W. Li, P. Bourgoin, M. A. Alam, A. K. Cheetham, S. A. Al-Muhtaseb and E. Sivaniah. Zeolitic imidazolate framework (ZIF-8) based polymer nanocomposite membranes for gas separationEnergy & Environmental Science, 2012, 5, 8359-8369. 


  • Q. Song, E. Sivaniah. Crosslinked polymer, method for producing the same, molecular sieve composition and material separation membranes. Filed via Cambridge Enterprise, transferred to Kyoto University. JST application number: S2014-0570-N0. PCT application No: PCT/JP2015/056582. International Publication Number: WO/2015/129925A1. International Publishing Date: 6/9/2015.
  • R. Xiao, S. Zhang, B. Jin, W. Zhong, Q. Song, Coal combustion apparatus capable of separating carbon dioxide and separation method thereof. Southeast University, China. 2010. Chinese Patent.
  • R. Xiao, H. Zhang, Q. Song, B. Jin. Single-bed self-heating type thermal pyrolysis, gasification, combustion reactor and thermal pyrolysis, gasification combustion method. Southeast University, China. 2008. Chinese Patent.

Funding and Projects

  • Principal Investigator, Department of Chemical Engineering Lectureship Start-up Research Funding. 2016-2021. 2016-2019
  • Principal Investigator, EPSRC, Institute for Molecular Science and Engineering, Seed-funding, “Advanced Ion-selective membranes in aqueous redox flow batteries for energy storage”, £25,000, 1/12-2016-3/2017, with Prof. N.P. Brandon FREng (Co-PI). 
  • Principal Investigator, Imperial College Junior Research Fellowship, covering research expenses and salaries. “Design and Fabrication of Novel Molecularly Defined Functional Nanomaterials” PI, £250,000, 2014-2017.
  • Contributed to EPSRC grant application: UK/China Carbon Capture and Storage, UK (Cambridge, Imperial, etc) and China (Tsinghua and Southeast University). “Multi-scale evaluation of advanced technologies for capturing the CO2: chemical looping applied to solid fuels”. EPSRC (EP/I010912/1): £0.6 M; NSFC: RMB 0.6M. 2011- 2014. 
  • Lead researcher, Qatar National Research Fund project (~$1.04M) (09/2009-03/2013) ‘Preparation and testing of nanoparticle functionalized membranes for gas separation.’
  • Lead researcher, Qatar National Research Fund project (~$980k) (09/2010-03/2014) ‘The development of nanostructured composite membranes for desalination units.’
  • Lead researcher, EPSRC grant - Joint UK / China Hydrogen production network (EP/G063265/1) (2009-2010).
  • Lead researcher, completed several key projects in China during MSc research (2006-2009), supported by the National Natural Science Foundation of China, National Basic Research Program, and National High Technology Research and Development Program of China. 
  • Lead researcher, several industrial projects funded by Sinopec Yangzi Petrochemical Co. Ltd, including reduction of NOx emission from regeneration of zeolites in fluid catalytic cracking reactors and improving coal combustion efficiency of coal-fired power plants. 

Research Collaborations

  • Involved in an EPSRC programme grant (£5M) From membrane material synthesis to fabrication and function (SynFabFun) (EP/M01486X/1): Synthesis and fabrication of novel materials to membranes for applications in gas separation, desalination, and chemical separation.
  • Collaboration with Professor Neil McKeown, University of Edinburgh, on PIMs polymers and membranes.
  • Collaboration with Professor Andy Cooper FRS, University of Liverpool, on ‘Porous organic cage molecules as building blocks for functional films and membranes’.
  • Collaboration with Prof. Paul Fennell, Imperial College, on ‘Synthesis and applications of nanostructured metal oxides for CO2 capture and H2 production via thermochemical reaction processes.
  • Collaborations with Prof. S.A. Al-Muhtaseb and Prof. H. Qiblawey, Department of Chemical Engineering, Qatar University. ‘Membranes for natural gas purification, and seawater purification and desalination’

Scholarship, Prizes, & Awards

2017                  IChemE Early Career Award - Nicklin Medal for Outstanding Research Outputs
2014-2017         Imperial College Junior Research Fellowship (Independent research fellowship)


2016-2017          Supervising MSc projects; Teaching Assistant for 1st year undergraduate course, Properties of Matter. 
2015-2016          Teaching Assistant for 1st year undergraduate students, Thermodynamics I.
2015- 2016         Supervised three MSc students as their primary supervisors. Directed literature review and day-to-day supervision.
2015-2016          Supervised two final year undergraduate students
2014-2015          Supervised one MSc student as the primary supervisor, discussing literature review, and day-to-day supervision.
2011-2012           Supervisor for two Masters students from University of Paris VII, day-to-day supervisor for three months. 

Academic Affiliations and Activities

Member of American Chemical Society (ACS), Royal Society of Chemistry (RSC), Institute of Chemical Engineers (IChemE), American Institute of Chemical Engineers (AIChE), Materials Research Society (MRS), North American Membrane Society, European Membrane Society.

Contribution to conference presentations

1.         Polymer nanofilms with enhanced microporosity by Interfacial Polymerization. North American Membrane Society Meeting. May, 2016.
2.         Thin Film Composite Membranes with Intrinsic Microporosity by Interfacial Polymerization for Molecular Separations. EuroMembrane Conference, September 2015.
3.         Nanostructured metal oxides for chemical looping processes. Invited talk at the 250th ACS National Meeting & Exposition, August 2015. Boston, USA.
4.         Advanced Molecular Sieve Membranes. Session of Porous Materials for Energy & Sustainability from Discovery to Application. Invited talk at the 250th ACS National Meeting & Exposition, August 2015. Boston, USA.
5.         Advanced Microporous Molecular Sieve Membranes. Poster presentation at the 12th International Conference on Materials Chemistry (MC12), York, UK, July 2015.
6.         Design and Fabrication of Novel Functional Energy Materials. ChemEngDayUK conference, Sheffield, UK, April 2015.
7.         High-performance Molecular Sieve Membranes Derived from Polymers of Intrinsic Microporosity. The 10th International Congress on Membranes and Membrane Processes. Suzhou, China, 2014.
8.         Nanoporous polymer membranes for gas separation. Theme Day of BSS group, Cavendish Laboratory, University of Cambridge, December, 2012.
9.         High Performance Gas separation membrane from a polymer of intrinsic microporosity by photochemical surface modification. AIChE annual meeting, Pittsburgh, USA, October, 2012.
10.       Nanocomposite membrane of a polymer of intrinsic microporosity and zeolitic imidazolate frameworks for gas separation. AIChE annual meeting, Pittsburgh, USA, October, 2012.
11.       Nanoporous polymer membranes for gas separation. RSC/SCI Macro Group UK Young Researcers Meeting, Cambridge, September, 2012. Poster
12.       High performance gas separation membrane from a polymer of intrinsic microporosity by photochemical surface modification. Euromembrane Conference, London, UK, September, 2012.
13.       Nanocomposite membrane of a polymer of intrinsic microporosity and zeolitic imidazolate frameworks for gas separation. Euromembrane Conference, London, UK, September, 2012.
14.       Nanoporous polymer membrane for gas separation. NanoDTC forum, University of Cambridge, 09/2012.
15.       Membrane technology for air separation and CO2 capture applications. Seminar to China Shenhua Energy Group, Universit of Cambridge, August, 2012.
16.       Polymeric and nanocomposite membranes for gas separation. Informal seminar of BSS group, Cavendish Laboratory, University of Cambridge, May, 2011.

Media coverage

My research findings were highlighted by various types of media coverage: press release by University of Cambridge and Imperial College London, and news in Nature Middle East, ScienceDaily,, Business Weekly, Daily Mail, and chemical engineering community, for example news in Chemical Engineer Progress (CEP), The Chemical Engineer (TCE).