Open AccessArticle
Fogging Control on LDPE/EVA Coextruded Films: Wettability Behavior and Its Correlation with Electric Performance
Membranes 2017, 7(1), 11; doi:10.3390/membranes7010011 -
Abstract
The transformation of fog at a non-visible water layer on a membrane of low-density polyethylene (LDPE) and ethylene-vinyl acetate (EVA) was evaluated. Nonionic surfactants of major demand in the polyolefin industry were studied. A kinetic study using a hot fog chamber showed that
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The transformation of fog at a non-visible water layer on a membrane of low-density polyethylene (LDPE) and ethylene-vinyl acetate (EVA) was evaluated. Nonionic surfactants of major demand in the polyolefin industry were studied. A kinetic study using a hot fog chamber showed that condensation is controlled by both the diffusion and permanency of the surfactant more than by the change of the surface energy developed by the wetting agents. The greatest permanency of the anti-fog effect of the LDPE/EVA surface was close to 3000 h. The contact angle results demonstrated the ability of the wetting agent to spread out to the surface. Complementarily, the migration of nonionic surfactants from the inside of the polymeric matrix to the surface was analyzed by Fourier transform infrared (FTIR) microscopy. Additionally, electrical measurement on the anti-fogging membrane at alternating currents and at a sweep frequency was proposed to test the conductivity and wetting ability of nonionic surfactants. We proved that the amphiphilic molecules had the ability to increase the conductivity in the polyolefin membrane. A correlation between the bulk electrical conductivity and the permanency of the fogging control on the LDPE/EVA coextruded film was found. Full article
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Open AccessFeature PaperReview
Review of Membranes for Helium Separation and Purification
Membranes 2017, 7(1), 9; doi:10.3390/membranes7010009 -
Abstract
Membrane gas separation has potential for the recovery and purification of helium, because the majority of membranes have selectivity for helium. This review reports on the current state of the research and patent literature for membranes undertaking helium separation. This includes direct recovery
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Membrane gas separation has potential for the recovery and purification of helium, because the majority of membranes have selectivity for helium. This review reports on the current state of the research and patent literature for membranes undertaking helium separation. This includes direct recovery from natural gas, as an ancillary stage in natural gas processing, as well as niche applications where helium recycling has potential. A review of the available polymeric and inorganic membranes for helium separation is provided. Commercial gas separation membranes in comparable gas industries are discussed in terms of their potential in helium separation. Also presented are the various membrane process designs patented for the recovery and purification of helium from various sources, as these demonstrate that it is viable to separate helium through currently available polymeric membranes. This review places a particular focus on those processes where membranes are combined in series with another separation technology, commonly pressure swing adsorption. These combined processes have the most potential for membranes to produce a high purity helium product. The review demonstrates that membrane gas separation is technically feasible for helium recovery and purification, though membranes are currently only applied in niche applications focused on reusing helium rather than separation from natural sources. Full article
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Open AccessArticle
Expression, Purification, and Monitoring of Conformational Changes of hCB2 TMH67H8 in Different Membrane-Mimetic Lipid Mixtures Using Circular Dichroism and NMR Techniques
Membranes 2017, 7(1), 10; doi:10.3390/membranes7010010 -
Abstract
This work was intended to develop self-assembly lipids for incorporating G-protein coupled receptors (GPCRs) in order to improve the success rate for nuclear magnetic resonance spectroscopy (NMR) structural elucidation. We hereby report the expression and purification of uniformly 15N-labeled human cannabinoid receptor-2
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This work was intended to develop self-assembly lipids for incorporating G-protein coupled receptors (GPCRs) in order to improve the success rate for nuclear magnetic resonance spectroscopy (NMR) structural elucidation. We hereby report the expression and purification of uniformly 15N-labeled human cannabinoid receptor-2 domain in insect cell media. The domain was refolded by screening several membrane mimetic environments. Different q ratios of isotropic bicelles were screened for solubilizing transmembrane helix 6, 7 and 8 (TMH67H8). As the concentration of dimyristoylphosphocholine (DMPC) was increased such that the q ratio was between 0.16 and 0.42, there was less crowding in the cross peaks with increasing q ratio. In bicelles of q = 0.42, the maximum number of cross peaks were obtained and the cross peaks were uniformly dispersed. The receptor domain in bicelles beyond q = 0.42 resulted in peak crowding. These studies demonstrate that GPCRs folding especially in bicelles is protein-specific and requires the right mix of the longer chain and shorter chain lipids to provide the right environment for proper folding. These findings will allow further development of novel membrane mimetics to provide greater diversity of lipid mixtures than those currently being employed for GPCR stability and folding, which are critical for both X-ray and NMR studies of GPCRs. Full article
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Open AccessArticle
Hollow Fiber Supported Liquid Membrane Extraction Combined with HPLC-UV for Simultaneous Preconcentration and Determination of Urinary Hippuric Acid and Mandelic Acid
Membranes 2017, 7(1), 8; doi:10.3390/membranes7010008 -
Abstract
This work describes a new extraction method with hollow-fiber liquid-phase microextraction based on facilitated pH gradient transport for analyzing hippuric acid and mandelic acid in aqueous samples. The factors affecting the metabolites extraction were optimized as follows: the volume of sample solution was
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This work describes a new extraction method with hollow-fiber liquid-phase microextraction based on facilitated pH gradient transport for analyzing hippuric acid and mandelic acid in aqueous samples. The factors affecting the metabolites extraction were optimized as follows: the volume of sample solution was 10 mL with pH 2 containing 0.5 mol·L−1 sodium chloride, liquid membrane containing 1-octanol with 20% (w/v) tributyl phosphate as the carrier, the time of extraction was 150 min, and stirring rate was 500 rpm. The organic phase immobilized in the pores of a hollow fiber was back-extracted into 24 µL of a solution containing sodium carbonate with pH 11, which was placed inside the lumen of the fiber. Under optimized conditions, the high enrichment factors of 172 and 195 folds, detection limit of 0.007 and 0.009 µg·mL−1 were obtained. The relative standard deviation (RSD) (%) values for intra- and inter-day precisions were calculated at 2.5%–8.2% and 4.1%–10.7%, respectively. The proposed method was successfully applied to the analysis of these metabolites in real urine samples. The results indicated that hollow-fiber liquid-phase microextraction (HF-LPME) based on facilitated pH gradient transport can be used as a sensitive and effective method for the determination of mandelic acid and hippuric acid in urine specimens. Full article
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Open AccessFeature PaperArticle
Synthesis and Transport Properties of Novel MOF/PIM-1/MOF Sandwich Membranes for Gas Separation
Membranes 2017, 7(1), 7; doi:10.3390/membranes7010007 -
Abstract
Metal-organic frameworks (MOFs) were supported on polymer membrane substrates for the fabrication of composite polymer membranes based on unmodified and modified polymer of intrinsic microporosity (PIM-1). Layers of two different MOFs, zeolitic imidazolate framework-8 (ZIF-8) and Copper benzene tricarboxylate ((HKUST-1), were grown onto
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Metal-organic frameworks (MOFs) were supported on polymer membrane substrates for the fabrication of composite polymer membranes based on unmodified and modified polymer of intrinsic microporosity (PIM-1). Layers of two different MOFs, zeolitic imidazolate framework-8 (ZIF-8) and Copper benzene tricarboxylate ((HKUST-1), were grown onto neat PIM-1, amide surface-modified PIM-1 and hexamethylenediamine (HMDA) -modified PIM-1. The surface-grown crystalline MOFs were characterized by a combination of several techniques, including powder X-ray diffraction, infrared spectroscopy and scanning electron microscopy to investigate the film morphology on the neat and modified PIM-1 membranes. The pure gas permeabilities of He, H2, O2, N2, CH4, CO2 were studied to understand the effect of the surface modification on the basic transport properties and evaluate the potential use of these membranes for industrially relevant gas separations. The pure gas transport was discussed in terms of permeability and selectivity, highlighting the effect of the MOF growth on the diffusion coefficients of the gas in the new composite polymer membranes. The results confirm that the growth of MOFs on polymer membranes can enhance the selectivity of the appropriately functionalized PIM-1, without a dramatic decrease of the permeability. Full article
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Open AccessFeature PaperReview
Recursive Alterations of the Relationship between Simple Membrane Geometry and Insertion of Amphiphilic Motifs
Membranes 2017, 7(1), 6; doi:10.3390/membranes7010006 -
Abstract
The shape and composition of a membrane directly regulate the localization, activity, and signaling properties of membrane associated proteins. Proteins that both sense and generate membrane curvature, e.g., through amphiphilic insertion motifs, potentially engage in recursive binding dynamics, where the recruitment of the
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The shape and composition of a membrane directly regulate the localization, activity, and signaling properties of membrane associated proteins. Proteins that both sense and generate membrane curvature, e.g., through amphiphilic insertion motifs, potentially engage in recursive binding dynamics, where the recruitment of the protein itself changes the properties of the membrane substrate. Simple geometric models of membrane curvature interactions already provide prediction tools for experimental observations, however these models are treating curvature sensing and generation as separated phenomena. Here, we outline a model that applies both geometric and basic thermodynamic considerations. This model allows us to predict the consequences of recursive properties in such interaction schemes and thereby integrate the membrane as a dynamic substrate. We use this combined model to hypothesize the origin and properties of tubular carrier systems observed in cells. Furthermore, we pinpoint the coupling to a membrane reservoir as a factor that influences the membrane curvature sensing and generation properties of local curvatures in the cell in line with classic determinants such as lipid composition and membrane geometry. Full article
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Open AccessArticle
Effect of Sodium and Chloride Binding on a Lecithin Bilayer. A Molecular Dynamics Study
Membranes 2017, 7(1), 5; doi:10.3390/membranes7010005 -
Abstract
The effect of ion binding on the structural, mechanical, dynamic and electrostatic properties of a 1-palmitoyl-2-oleoyl-sn-glycero-3-phosphocholine (POPC) bilayer in a 0.5 M aqueous NaCl solution is investigated using classical atomistic molecular dynamics simulation with different force-field descriptions for ion-ion and ion-lipid
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The effect of ion binding on the structural, mechanical, dynamic and electrostatic properties of a 1-palmitoyl-2-oleoyl-sn-glycero-3-phosphocholine (POPC) bilayer in a 0.5 M aqueous NaCl solution is investigated using classical atomistic molecular dynamics simulation with different force-field descriptions for ion-ion and ion-lipid interactions. Most importantly, the repulsive Lennard–Jones parameters for the latter were modified, such that approximately similar binding of cations and anions to the lipid membrane is achieved. This was done to qualitatively improve the apparent ion-lipid binding constants obtained from simulations with the original force field (Berger lipids and GROMOS87 ions in combination with the SPC water model) in comparison to experimental data. Furthermore, various parameters characterizing membrane structure, elasticity, order and dynamics are analyzed. It is found that ion binding as observed in simulations involving the modified in comparison to the original force-field description leads to: (i) a smaller salt-induced change in the area per lipid, which is in closer agreement with the experiment; (ii) a decrease in the area compressibility and bilayer thickness to values comparable to a bilayer in pure water; (iii) lipid deuterium order parameters and lipid diffusion coefficients on nanosecond timescales that are very similar to the values for a membrane in pure water. In general, salt effects on the structural properties of a POPC bilayer in an aqueous sodium-chloride solution appear to be reproduced reasonably well by the new force-field description. An analysis of membrane-membrane disjoining pressure suggests that the smaller salt-induced change in area per lipid induced by the new force-field description is not due to the alteration of membrane-associated net charge, but must rather be understood as a consequence of ion-specific effects on the arrangement of lipid molecules. Full article
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Open AccessFeature PaperArticle
Colloidal Fouling of Nanofiltration Membranes: Development of a Standard Operating Procedure
Membranes 2017, 7(1), 4; doi:10.3390/membranes7010004 -
Abstract
Fouling of nanofiltration (NF) membranes is the most significant obstacle to the development of a sustainable and energy-efficient NF process. Colloidal fouling and performance decline in NF processes is complex due to the combination of cake formation and salt concentration polarization effects, which
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Fouling of nanofiltration (NF) membranes is the most significant obstacle to the development of a sustainable and energy-efficient NF process. Colloidal fouling and performance decline in NF processes is complex due to the combination of cake formation and salt concentration polarization effects, which are influenced by the properties of the colloids and the membrane, the operating conditions of the test, and the solution chemistry. Although numerous studies have been conducted to investigate the influence of these parameters on the performance of the NF process, the importance of membrane preconditioning (e.g., compaction and equilibrating with salt water), as well as the determination of key parameters (e.g., critical flux and trans-membrane osmotic pressure) before the fouling experiment have not been reported in detail. The aim of this paper is to present a standard experimental and data analysis protocol for NF colloidal fouling experiments. The developed methodology covers preparation and characterization of water samples and colloidal particles, pre-test membrane compaction and critical flux determination, measurement of experimental data during the fouling test, and the analysis of that data to determine the relative importance of various fouling mechanisms. The standard protocol is illustrated with data from a series of flat sheet, bench-scale experiments. Full article
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Open AccessReview
Biological Fuel Cells and Membranes
Membranes 2017, 7(1), 3; doi:10.3390/membranes7010003 -
Abstract
Biofuel cells have been widely used to generate bioelectricity. Early biofuel cells employ a semi-permeable membrane to separate the anodic and cathodic compartments. The impact of different membrane materials and compositions has also been explored. Some membrane materials are employed strictly as membrane
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Biofuel cells have been widely used to generate bioelectricity. Early biofuel cells employ a semi-permeable membrane to separate the anodic and cathodic compartments. The impact of different membrane materials and compositions has also been explored. Some membrane materials are employed strictly as membrane separators, while some have gained significant attention in the immobilization of enzymes or microorganisms within or behind the membrane at the electrode surface. The membrane material affects the transfer rate of the chemical species (e.g., fuel, oxygen molecules, and products) involved in the chemical reaction, which in turn has an impact on the performance of the biofuel cell. For enzymatic biofuel cells, Nafion, modified Nafion, and chitosan membranes have been used widely and continue to hold great promise in the long-term stability of enzymes and microorganisms encapsulated within them. This article provides a review of the most widely used membrane materials in the development of enzymatic and microbial biofuel cells. Full article
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Open AccessEditorial
Acknowledgement to Reviewers of Membranes in 2016
Membranes 2017, 7(1), 2; doi:10.3390/membranes7010002 -
Open AccessFeature PaperArticle
Concentration of Tea Extracts by Osmotic Evaporation: Optimisation of Process Parameters and Effect on Antioxidant Activity
Membranes 2017, 7(1), 1; doi:10.3390/membranes7010001 -
Abstract
In this work, the concentration process of three different tea extracts (medicinal Rosil No. 6, Black, and Forest Fruit teas) using the osmotic evaporation (OE) process, was studied. The effect of the OE process on the content of phenolic compounds and antioxidant activity
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In this work, the concentration process of three different tea extracts (medicinal Rosil No. 6, Black, and Forest Fruit teas) using the osmotic evaporation (OE) process, was studied. The effect of the OE process on the content of phenolic compounds and antioxidant activity was evaluated. The concentration process was carried out in a hollow-fibre membrane contactor with an effective surface area of 0.54 m2. The tea extract was circulated through the shell side of the contactor, while a concentrated osmotic solution (CaCl2 5 M) was circulated inside the fibres. The flux, the driving force, and the mass transfer coefficient were evaluated. A decrease of the water flux over time was observed and was attributed only to the decrease of the driving force, caused by the dilution of the osmotic solution. Using a surface area/feed volume ratio of 774 m2·m−3, it is possible to reach a tea concentration of 40% (w/w) in 5 h, with a constant water flux and without losing the phenolic content and antioxidant potential in most teas. Full article
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Open AccessFeature PaperArticle
Nanofiber Ion-Exchange Membranes for the Rapid Uptake and Recovery of Heavy Metals from Water
Membranes 2016, 6(4), 59; doi:10.3390/membranes6040059 -
Abstract
An evaluation of the performance of polyelectrolyte-modified nanofiber membranes was undertaken to determine their efficacy in the rapid uptake and recovery of heavy metals from impaired waters. The membranes were prepared by grafting poly(acrylic acid) (PAA) and poly(itaconic acid) (PIA) to cellulose nanofiber
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An evaluation of the performance of polyelectrolyte-modified nanofiber membranes was undertaken to determine their efficacy in the rapid uptake and recovery of heavy metals from impaired waters. The membranes were prepared by grafting poly(acrylic acid) (PAA) and poly(itaconic acid) (PIA) to cellulose nanofiber mats. Performance measurements quantified the dynamic ion-exchange capacity for cadmium (Cd), productivity, and recovery of Cd(II) from the membranes by regeneration. The dynamic binding capacities of Cd(II) on both types of nanofiber membrane were independent of the linear flow velocity, with a residence time of as low as 2 s. Analysis of breakthrough curves indicated that the mass flow rate increased rapidly at constant applied pressure after membranes approached equilibrium load capacity for Cd(II), apparently due to a collapse of the polymer chains on the membrane surface, leading to an increased porosity. This mechanism is supported by hydrodynamic radius (Rh) measurements for PAA and PIA obtained from dynamic light scattering, which show that Rh values decrease upon Cd(II) binding. Volumetric productivity was high for the nanofiber membranes, and reached 0.55 mg Cd/g/min. The use of ethylenediaminetetraacetic acid as regeneration reagent was effective in fully recovering Cd(II) from the membranes. Ion-exchange capacities were constant over five cycles of binding-regeneration. Full article
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Open AccessFeature PaperReview
Incorporation of Graphene-Related Carbon Nanosheets in Membrane Fabrication for Water Treatment: A Review
Membranes 2016, 6(4), 57; doi:10.3390/membranes6040057 -
Abstract
The minimization of the trade-off between the flux and the selectivity of membranes is a key area that researchers are continually working to optimise, particularly in the area of fabrication of novel membranes. Flux versus selectivity issues apply in many industrial applications of
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The minimization of the trade-off between the flux and the selectivity of membranes is a key area that researchers are continually working to optimise, particularly in the area of fabrication of novel membranes. Flux versus selectivity issues apply in many industrial applications of membranes, for example the unwanted diffusion of methanol in fuel cells, retention of valuable proteins in downstream processing of biopharmaceuticals, rejection of organic matter and micro-organisms in water treatment, or salt permeation in desalination. The incorporation of nanosheets within membrane structures can potentially lead to enhancements in such properties as the antifouling ability, hydrophilicy and permeability of membranes, with concomitant improvements in the flux/selectivity balance. Graphene nanosheets and derivatives such as graphene oxide and reduced graphene oxide have been investigated for this purpose, for example inclusion of nanosheets within the active layer of Reverse Osmosis or Nanofiltration membranes or the blending of nanosheets as fillers within Ultrafiltration membranes. This review summarizes the incorporation of graphene derivatives into polymeric membranes for water treatment with a focus on a number of industrial applications, including desalination and pharmaceutical removal, where enhancement of productivity and reduction in fouling characteristics have been afforded by appropriate incorporation of graphene derived nanosheets during membrane fabrication. Full article
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Open AccessFeature PaperReview
Structure and Nanomechanics of Model Membranes by Atomic Force Microscopy and Spectroscopy: Insights into the Role of Cholesterol and Sphingolipids
Membranes 2016, 6(4), 58; doi:10.3390/membranes6040058 -
Abstract
Biological membranes mediate several biological processes that are directly associated with their physical properties but sometimes difficult to evaluate. Supported lipid bilayers (SLBs) are model systems widely used to characterize the structure of biological membranes. Cholesterol (Chol) plays an essential role in the
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Biological membranes mediate several biological processes that are directly associated with their physical properties but sometimes difficult to evaluate. Supported lipid bilayers (SLBs) are model systems widely used to characterize the structure of biological membranes. Cholesterol (Chol) plays an essential role in the modulation of membrane physical properties. It directly influences the order and mechanical stability of the lipid bilayers, and it is known to laterally segregate in rafts in the outer leaflet of the membrane together with sphingolipids (SLs). Atomic force microscope (AFM) is a powerful tool as it is capable to sense and apply forces with high accuracy, with distance and force resolution at the nanoscale, and in a controlled environment. AFM-based force spectroscopy (AFM-FS) has become a crucial technique to study the nanomechanical stability of SLBs by controlling the liquid media and the temperature variations. In this contribution, we review recent AFM and AFM-FS studies on the effect of Chol on the morphology and mechanical properties of model SLBs, including complex bilayers containing SLs. We also introduce a promising combination of AFM and X-ray (XR) techniques that allows for in situ characterization of dynamic processes, providing structural, morphological, and nanomechanical information. Full article
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Open AccessFeature PaperReview
Application of Semipermeable Membranes in Glucose Biosensing
Membranes 2016, 6(4), 55; doi:10.3390/membranes6040055 -
Abstract
Glucose biosensors have received significant attention in recent years due to the escalating mortality rate of diabetes mellitus. Although there is currently no cure for diabetes mellitus, individuals living with diabetes can lead a normal life by maintaining tight control of their blood
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Glucose biosensors have received significant attention in recent years due to the escalating mortality rate of diabetes mellitus. Although there is currently no cure for diabetes mellitus, individuals living with diabetes can lead a normal life by maintaining tight control of their blood glucose levels using glucose biosensors (e.g., glucometers). Current research in the field is focused on the optimization and improvement in the performance of glucose biosensors by employing a variety of glucose selective enzymes, mediators and semipermeable membranes to improve the electron transfer between the active center of the enzyme and the electrode substrate. Herein, we summarize the different semipermeable membranes used in the fabrication of the glucose biosensor, that result in improved biosensor sensitivity, selectivity, dynamic range, response time and stability. Full article
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Open AccessFeature PaperArticle
Vitamin E Circular Dichroism Studies: Insights into Conformational Changes Induced by the Solvent’s Polarity
Membranes 2016, 6(4), 56; doi:10.3390/membranes6040056 -
Abstract
We used circular dichroism (CD) to study differences in CD spectra between α-, δ-, and methylated-α-tocopherol in solvents with different polarities. CD spectra of the different tocopherol structures differ from each other in intensity and peak locations, which can
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We used circular dichroism (CD) to study differences in CD spectra between α-, δ-, and methylated-α-tocopherol in solvents with different polarities. CD spectra of the different tocopherol structures differ from each other in intensity and peak locations, which can be attributed to chromanol substitution and the ability to form hydrogen bonds. In addition, each structure was examined in different polarity solvents using the Reichardt index—a measure of the solvent’s ionizing ability, and a direct measurement of solvent–solute interactions. Differences across solvents indicate that hydrogen bonding is a key contributor to CD spectra at 200 nm. These results are a first step in examining the hydrogen bonding abilities of vitamin E in a lipid bilayer. Full article
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Open AccessReview
Process-Oriented Review of Bacterial Quorum Quenching for Membrane Biofouling Mitigation in Membrane Bioreactors (MBRs)
Membranes 2016, 6(4), 52; doi:10.3390/membranes6040052 -
Abstract
Quorum Quenching (QQ) has been developed over the last few years to overcome practical issues related to membrane biofouling, which is currently the major difficulty thwarting the extensive development of membrane bioreactors (MBRs). QQ is the disruption of Quorum Sensing (QS), cell-to-cell communication
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Quorum Quenching (QQ) has been developed over the last few years to overcome practical issues related to membrane biofouling, which is currently the major difficulty thwarting the extensive development of membrane bioreactors (MBRs). QQ is the disruption of Quorum Sensing (QS), cell-to-cell communication enabling the bacteria to harmonize their behavior. The production of biofilm, which is recognized as a major part of the biocake formed on a membrane surface, and which leads to biofouling, has been found to be one of the bacterial behaviors controlled by QS. Since the enzymatic disruption of QS was reported to be efficient as a membrane biofouling mitigation technique in MBRs, the application of QQ to lab-scale MBRs has been the subject of much research using different approaches under different operating conditions. This paper gives an overview of the effectiveness of QQ in mitigating membrane biofouling in MBRs. It is based on the results of previous studies, using two microbial strains, Rhodococcus sp. BH4 and Pseudomonas sp. 1A1. The effect of bacterial QQ on the physical phenomena of the MBR process is analyzed, adopting an original multi-scale approach. Finally, the potential influence of the MBR operating conditions on QQ effectiveness is discussed. Full article
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Open AccessFeature PaperReview
What Ion Flow along Ion Channels Can Tell us about Their Functional Activity
Membranes 2016, 6(4), 53; doi:10.3390/membranes6040053 -
Abstract
The functional activity of channel-forming peptides and proteins is most directly verified by monitoring the flow of physiologically relevant inorganic ions, such as Na+, K+ and Cl, along the ion channels. Electrical current measurements across bilayer lipid membranes
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The functional activity of channel-forming peptides and proteins is most directly verified by monitoring the flow of physiologically relevant inorganic ions, such as Na+, K+ and Cl, along the ion channels. Electrical current measurements across bilayer lipid membranes (BLMs) interposed between two aqueous solutions have been widely employed to this end and are still extensively used. However, a major drawback of BLMs is their fragility, high sensitivity toward vibrations and mechanical shocks, and low resistance to electric fields. To overcome this problem, metal-supported tethered BLMs (tBLMs) have been devised, where the BLM is anchored to the metal via a hydrophilic spacer that replaces and mimics the water phase on the metal side. However, only mercury-supported tBLMs can measure and regulate the flow of the above inorganic ions, thanks to mercury liquid state and high hydrogen overpotential. This review summarizes the main results achieved by BLMs incorporating voltage-gated channel-forming peptides, interpreting them on the basis of a kinetic mechanism of nucleation and growth. Hg-supported tBLMs are then described, and their potential for the investigation of voltage-gated and ohmic channels is illustrated by the use of different electrochemical techniques. Full article
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Open AccessFeature PaperArticle
Treated Seawater as a Magnesium Source for Phosphorous Recovery from Wastewater—A Feasibility and Cost Analysis
Membranes 2016, 6(4), 54; doi:10.3390/membranes6040054 -
Abstract
Conventional resources of phosphorous are at high risk of depletion in the near future due to current practices of its exploitation, thus new and improved exploration methodologies need to be developed to ensure phosphorous security. Today, some treatment plants recover phosphorous from municipal
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Conventional resources of phosphorous are at high risk of depletion in the near future due to current practices of its exploitation, thus new and improved exploration methodologies need to be developed to ensure phosphorous security. Today, some treatment plants recover phosphorous from municipal wastewater as struvite (MgNH4PO4·6H2O). Magnesium is often added to the wastewater as MgCl2·6H2O to facilitate the phosphorous recovery. However, the use of magnesium increases the costs of the process and is not aligned with sustainable development, therefore, alternative magnesium sources have to be found. The current study analyzes the feasibility of integrated membrane processes for magnesium recovery from seawater for utilization in the phosphorous recovery process. The integrated membrane systems consist of nanofiltration (NF), membrane distillation (MD), and membrane crystallization (MCr). The lowest associated cost is found for standalone NF treatment. However, the additional treatment with MD and MCr produces fresh water and salts like NaCl or potentially other valuable minerals at the expense of low-grade heat. Full article
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Open AccessArticle
Investigating Sterol and Redox Regulation of the Ion Channel Activity of CLIC1 Using Tethered Bilayer Membranes
Membranes 2016, 6(4), 51; doi:10.3390/membranes6040051 -
Abstract
The Chloride Intracellular Ion Channel (CLIC) family consists of six conserved proteins in humans. These are a group of enigmatic proteins, which adopt both a soluble and membrane bound form. CLIC1 was found to be a metamorphic protein, where under specific environmental triggers
[...] Read more.
The Chloride Intracellular Ion Channel (CLIC) family consists of six conserved proteins in humans. These are a group of enigmatic proteins, which adopt both a soluble and membrane bound form. CLIC1 was found to be a metamorphic protein, where under specific environmental triggers it adopts more than one stable reversible soluble structural conformation. CLIC1 was found to spontaneously insert into cell membranes and form chloride ion channels. However, factors that control the structural transition of CLIC1 from being an aqueous soluble protein into a membrane bound protein have yet to be adequately described. Using tethered bilayer lipid membranes and electrical impedance spectroscopy system, herein we demonstrate that CLIC1 ion channel activity is dependent on the type and concentration of sterols in bilayer membranes. These findings suggest that membrane sterols play an essential role in CLIC1’s acrobatic switching from a globular soluble form to an integral membrane form, promoting greater ion channel conductance in membranes. What remains unclear is the precise nature of this regulation involving membrane sterols and ultimately determining CLIC1’s membrane structure and function as an ion channel. Furthermore, our impedance spectroscopy results obtained using CLIC1 mutants, suggest that the residue Cys24 is not essential for CLIC1’s ion channel function. However Cys24 does appear important for optimal ion channel activity. We also observe differences in conductance between CLIC1 reduced and oxidized forms when added to our tethered membranes. Therefore, we conclude that both membrane sterols and redox play a role in the ion channel activity of CLIC1. Full article
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