Abstract: Mechanosensitive (MS) channels are ubiquitous molecular force sensors that respond to a number of different mechanical stimuli including tensile, compressive and shear stress. MS channels are also proposed to be molecular curvature sensors gating in response to bending in their local environment. One of the main mechanisms to functionally study these channels is the patch clamp technique. However, the patch of membrane surveyed using this methodology is far from physiological. Here we use continuum mechanics to probe the question of how curvature, in a standard patch clamp experiment, at different length scales (global and local) affects a model MS channel. Firstly, to increase the accuracy of the Laplace’s equation in tension estimation in a patch membrane and to be able to more precisely describe the transient phenomena happening during patch clamping, we propose a modified Laplace’s equation. Most importantly, we unambiguously show that the global curvature of a patch, which is visible under the microscope during patch clamp experiments, is of negligible energetic consequence for activation of an MS channel in a model membrane. However, the local curvature (RL < 50) and the direction of bending are able to cause considerable changes in the stress distribution through the thickness of the membrane. Not only does local bending, in the order of physiologically relevant curvatures, cause a substantial change in the pressure profile but it also significantly modifies the stress distribution in response to force application. Understanding these stress variations in regions of high local bending is essential for a complete understanding of the effects of curvature on MS channels.
Abstract: In power generating terms, a pressure retarded osmosis (PRO) energy generating plant, on a river entering a sea or ocean, is equivalent to a hydroelectric dam with a height of about 60 meters. Therefore, PRO can add significantly to existing renewable power generation capacity if economical constrains of the method are resolved. PRO energy generation relies on a semipermeable membrane that is permeable to water and impermeable to salt. Mathematical modelling plays an important part in understanding flows of water and salt near and across semipermeable membranes and helps to optimize PRO energy generation. Therefore, the modelling can help realizing PRO energy generation potential. In this work, a few aspects of mathematical modelling of the PRO process are reviewed and discussed.
Abstract: The introduction of sulfonic acid modified silica in Nafion nanocomposite membranes is a good method of improving the Nafion performance at high temperature and low relative humidity. Sulfonic acid-modified silica is bifunctional, with silica phase expected to offer an improvement in membranes hydration while sulfonic groups enhance proton conductivity. However, as discussed in this paper, this may not always be the case. Proton conductivity enhancement of Nafion nanocomposite membranes is very dependent on silica particle size, sometimes depending on experimental conditions, and by surface modification. In this study, Sulfonated Preconcentrated Nafion Stober Silica composites (SPNSS) were prepared by modification of Stober silica particles with mercaptopropyltriethoxysilane, dispersing the particles into a preconcentrated solution of Nafion, then casting the membranes. The mercapto groups were oxidized to sulfonic acids by heating the membranes in 10 wt % hydrogen peroxide for 1 h. At 80 °C and 100% relative humidity, a 20%–30% enhancement of proton conductivity was only observed when sulfonic acid modified particle less than 50 nm in diameter were used. At 120 °C, and 100% humidity, proton conductivity increased by 22%–42% with sulfonated particles with small particles showing the greatest enhancement. At 120 °C and 50% humidity, the sulfonated particles are less efficient at keeping the membranes hydrated, and the composites underperform Nafion and silica-Nafion nanocomposite membranes.
Abstract: The potential between two electrolytic solutions separated by a membrane impermeable to ions was measured and the generation mechanism of potential measured was investigated. From the physiological point of view, a nonzero membrane potential or action potential cannot be observed across the impermeable membrane. However, a nonzero membrane potential including action potential-like potential was clearly observed. Those observations gave rise to a doubt concerning the validity of currently accepted generation mechanism of membrane potential and action potential of cell. As an alternative theory, we found that the long-forgotten Ling’s adsorption theory was the most plausible theory. Ling’s adsorption theory suggests that the membrane potential and action potential of a living cell is due to the adsorption of mobile ions onto the adsorption site of cell, and this theory is applicable even to nonliving (or non-biological) system as well as living system. Through this paper, the authors emphasize that it is necessary to reconsider the validity of current membrane theory and also would like to urge the readers to pay keen attention to the Ling’s adsorption theory which has for long years been forgotten in the history of physiology.
Abstract: Press liquors are typical by-products of the citrus juice processing characterized by a high content of organic compounds and associated problems of environmental impact, which imply high treatment costs. However, these wastes contain a great number of health promoting substances, including fibers, carotenoids and phenolic compounds (mainly flavonoids), whose recovery against waste-destruction technologies is very attractive for new business opportunities. In this work, the clarification of orange press liquor by using microfiltration (MF) membranes is studied as a preliminary step to obtain a permeate stream enriched in antioxidant compounds which can be further processed to produce extracts of nutraceutical and/or pharmaceutical interest. MF poly(vinylidene fluoride) (PVDF) hollow fibers were prepared by the dry/wet spinning technique. A series of fibers was produced from the same polymeric dope, in order to investigate the effect of selected spinning parameters, i.e., bore fluid composition and flowrate, on their properties. The morphology of the produced fibers was analyzed by Scanning Electron Microscopy (SEM). Fibers were further characterized for their mechanical properties, porosity, bubble point, pore size distribution and pure water permeability (PWP). Some of the produced fibers exhibited high permeability (pure water permeability ~530 L/m2·h·bar), coupled to good mechanical resistance and pore size in the range of MF membranes. These fibers were selected and used for the clarification of press liquor from orange peel processing. In optimized operating conditions, the selected fibers produced steady-state fluxes of about 41 L/m2·h with rejections towards polyphenols and total antioxidant activity of 4.1% and 1.4%, respectively.