Sidney Loeb

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Sidney Loeb
Sidney Loeb

DiedDecember 11, 2008(2008-12-11) (aged 91)
Omer, Israel
ResidenceUnited States, Israel
NationalityAmerican, Israeli
Alma materUniversity of Illinois(B.S.),
University of California at Los Angeles (M.Sc., Ph.D.)
Known forReverse Osmosis
Spouse(s)Mickey Loeb
Scientific career
FieldsChemical Engineering
InstitutionsBen-Gurion University
Doctoral advisorSamuel Yuster
Other academic advisorsSrinivasa Sourirajan

Sidney Loeb (1917–2008)[1][2] made reverse osmosis (RO) practical by developing, together with Srinivasa Sourirajan, semi-permeable anisotropic membranes. The invention of the practical reverse osmosis membrane revolutionized the concept of water desalination. Loeb invented the power generating process pressure retarded osmosis (PRO)--making accessible a rich previously unknown source of green energy, and a method of producing power by a reverse electrodialysis (RED) heat engine, among other inventions in related fields. The production of energy by PRO and RED, among others, is sometimes called "osmotic power."


Loeb was born in Kansas City, Missouri in 1917. He studied chemical engineering at the University of Illinois, Chicago. After working in industry for 20 years, he earned his M.Sc. (1959) and Ph.D. (1964) degrees from the University of California at Los Angeles. It was in the course of his M.Sc. thesis research that the Loeb-Sourirajan membrane breakthrough was achieved.[3]

In 1967 Loeb came to Beersheva to teach RO technology at the Negev Institute for Arid Zone Research, later incorporated into the Institutes for Applied Research of the Ben-Gurion University of the Negev (BGU). Loeb later accepted a half time teaching and half time research position as Professor of Chemical Engineering at the newly established BGU. For 15 years at BGU, Loeb carried out research and taught membrane processes, desalination, and other subjects. It was at BGU that Loeb invented pressure retarded osmosis [4] and a method of producing power by a reverse electrodialysis heat engine.[5]


  1. ^ Weintraub, Bob. "Sidney Loeb," Bulletin of the Israel Chemical Society, Dec. 2001, issue 8, page 8-9.
  2. ^ D. Hasson. (article in press) 2010. In memory of Sidney Loeb
  3. ^ US Patent 3,133,132. High flow porous membranes for separating water from saline solutions.
  4. ^ Israel Patent Application 42658 of July 3, 1973. (see also US patent 3,906,250, granted September 16, 1975. Method and apparatus for generating power utilizing pressure-retarded-osmosis.[1] Erroneously shows Israel priority as 1974 instead of 1973).
  5. ^ US Patent 4,171,409 Method and apparatus for generating power utilizing reverse electrodialysis.