Open AccessArticle
Integration of Methane Steam Reforming and Water Gas Shift Reaction in a Pd/Au/Pd-Based Catalytic Membrane Reactor for Process Intensification
Membranes 2016, 6(3), 44; doi:10.3390/membranes6030044 -
Abstract
Palladium-based catalytic membrane reactors (CMRs) effectively remove H2 to induce higher conversions in methane steam reforming (MSR) and water-gas-shift reactions (WGS). Within such a context, this work evaluates the technical performance of a novel CMR, which utilizes two catalysts in series, [...] Read more.
Palladium-based catalytic membrane reactors (CMRs) effectively remove H2 to induce higher conversions in methane steam reforming (MSR) and water-gas-shift reactions (WGS). Within such a context, this work evaluates the technical performance of a novel CMR, which utilizes two catalysts in series, rather than one. In the process system under consideration, the first catalyst, confined within the shell side of the reactor, reforms methane with water yielding H2, CO and CO2. After reforming is completed, a second catalyst, positioned in series, reacts with CO and water through the WGS reaction yielding pure H2O, CO2 and H2. A tubular composite asymmetric Pd/Au/Pd membrane is situated throughout the reactor to continuously remove the produced H2 and induce higher methane and CO conversions while yielding ultrapure H2 and compressed CO2 ready for dehydration. Experimental results involving (i) a conventional packed bed reactor packed (PBR) for MSR, (ii) a PBR with five layers of two catalysts in series and (iii) a CMR with two layers of two catalysts in series are comparatively assessed and thoroughly characterized. Furthermore, a comprehensive 2D computational fluid dynamics (CFD) model was developed to explore further the features of the proposed configuration. The reaction was studied at different process intensification-relevant conditions, such as space velocities, temperatures, pressures and initial feed gas composition. Finally, it is demonstrated that the above CMR module, which was operated for 600 h, displays quite high H2 permeance and purity, high CH4 conversion levels and reduced CO yields. Full article
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Open AccessArticle
Protein-Based Graphene Biosensors: Optimizing Artificial Chemoreception in Bilayer Lipid Membranes
Membranes 2016, 6(3), 43; doi:10.3390/membranes6030043 -
Abstract
Proteinaceous moieties are critical elements in most detection systems, including biosensing platforms. Their potential is undoubtedly vast, yet many issues regarding their full exploitation remain unsolved. On the other hand, the biosensor formats with the higher marketability probabilities are enzyme in nature [...] Read more.
Proteinaceous moieties are critical elements in most detection systems, including biosensing platforms. Their potential is undoubtedly vast, yet many issues regarding their full exploitation remain unsolved. On the other hand, the biosensor formats with the higher marketability probabilities are enzyme in nature and electrochemical in concept. To no surprise, alternative materials for hosting catalysis within an electrode casing have received much attention lately to demonstrate a catalysis-coated device. Graphene and ZnO are presented as ideal materials to modify electrodes and biosensor platforms, especially in protein-based detection. Our group developed electrochemical sensors based on these nanomaterials for the sensitive detection of cholesterol using cholesterol oxidase incorporated in stabilized lipid films. A comparison between the two platforms is provided and discussed. In a broader sense, the not-so-remote prospect of quickly assembling a protein-based flexible biosensing detector to fulfill site-specific requirements is appealing to both university researchers and industry developers. Full article
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Open AccessReview
Membrane Technology for the Recovery of Lignin: A Review
Membranes 2016, 6(3), 42; doi:10.3390/membranes6030042 -
Abstract
Utilization of renewable resources is becoming increasingly important, and only sustainable processes that convert such resources into useful products can achieve environmentally beneficial economic growth. Wastewater from the pulp and paper industry is an unutilized resource offering the potential to recover valuable [...] Read more.
Utilization of renewable resources is becoming increasingly important, and only sustainable processes that convert such resources into useful products can achieve environmentally beneficial economic growth. Wastewater from the pulp and paper industry is an unutilized resource offering the potential to recover valuable products such as lignin, pigments, and water [1]. The recovery of lignin is particularly important because it has many applications, and membrane technology has been investigated as the basis of innovative recovery solutions. The concentration of lignin can be increased from 62 to 285 g∙L−1 using membranes and the recovered lignin is extremely pure. Membrane technology is also scalable and adaptable to different waste liquors from the pulp and paper industry. Full article
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Open AccessCommunication
Insights into Surface Interactions between Metal Organic Frameworks and Gases during Transient Adsorption and Diffusion by In-Situ Small Angle X-ray Scattering
Membranes 2016, 6(3), 41; doi:10.3390/membranes6030041 -
Abstract
The fabrication of molecular gas sieving materials with specific affinities for a single gas species and able to store large quantities of materials at a low or atmospheric pressure is desperately required to reduce the adverse effects of coal and oil usage [...] Read more.
The fabrication of molecular gas sieving materials with specific affinities for a single gas species and able to store large quantities of materials at a low or atmospheric pressure is desperately required to reduce the adverse effects of coal and oil usage in carbon capture. Fundamental understanding of the dynamic adsorption of gas, the diffusion mechanisms across thin film membranes, and the impact of interfaces play a vital role in developing these materials. In this work, single gas permeation tests across micro-porous membrane materials, based on metal organic framework crystals grown on the surface of carbon nanotubes (ZiF-8@CNT), were performed for the first time in-situ at the Australian Synchrotron on the small angle X-ray scattering beamline in order to reveal molecular sieving mechanisms and gas adsorption within the material. The results show that specific chemi-sorption of CO2 across the ZiF-8 crystal lattices affected the morphology and unit cell parameters, while the sieving of other noble or noble like gases across the ZiF-8@CNT membranes was found to largely follow Knudsen diffusion. This work demonstrates for the first time a novel and effective technique to assess molecular diffusion at the nano-scale across sub-nano-porous materials by probing molecular flexibility across crystal lattice and single cell units. Full article
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Open AccessArticle
Permeability-Selectivity Analysis of Microfiltration and Ultrafiltration Membranes: Effect of Pore Size and Shape Distribution and Membrane Stretching
Membranes 2016, 6(3), 40; doi:10.3390/membranes6030040 -
Abstract
We present a modeling approach to determine the permeability-selectivity tradeoff for microfiltration and ultrafiltration membranes with a distribution of pore sizes and pore shapes. Using the formulated permeability-selectivity model, the effect of pore aspect ratio and pore size distribution on the permeability-selectivity [...] Read more.
We present a modeling approach to determine the permeability-selectivity tradeoff for microfiltration and ultrafiltration membranes with a distribution of pore sizes and pore shapes. Using the formulated permeability-selectivity model, the effect of pore aspect ratio and pore size distribution on the permeability-selectivity tradeoff of the membrane is analyzed. A finite element model is developed to study the effect of membrane stretching on the distribution of pore sizes and shapes in the stretched membrane. The effect of membrane stretching on the permeability-selectivity tradeoff of membranes is also analyzed. The results show that increasing pore aspect ratio improves membrane performance while increasing the width of pore size distribution deteriorates the performance. It was also found that the effect of membrane stretching on the permeability-selectivity tradeoff is greatly affected by the uniformity of pore distribution in the membrane. Stretching showed a positive shift in the permeability-selectivity tradeoff curve of membranes with well-dispersed pores while in the case of pore clustering, a negative shift in the permeability-selectivity tradeoff curve was observed. Full article
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Open AccessArticle
Combining Coagulation/MIEX with Biological Activated Carbon Treatment to Control Organic Fouling in the Microfiltration of Secondary Effluent
Membranes 2016, 6(3), 39; doi:10.3390/membranes6030039 -
Abstract
Coagulation, magnetic ion exchange resin (MIEX) and biological activated carbon (BAC) were examined at lab scale as standalone, and sequential pre-treatments for controlling the organic fouling of a microfiltration membrane by biologically treated secondary effluent (BTSE) using a multi-cycle approach. MIEX gave [...] Read more.
Coagulation, magnetic ion exchange resin (MIEX) and biological activated carbon (BAC) were examined at lab scale as standalone, and sequential pre-treatments for controlling the organic fouling of a microfiltration membrane by biologically treated secondary effluent (BTSE) using a multi-cycle approach. MIEX gave slightly greater enhancement in flux than coagulation due to greater removal of high molecular weight (MW) humic substances, although it was unable to remove high MW biopolymers. BAC treatment was considerably more effective for improving the flux than coagulation or MIEX. This was due to the biodegradation of biopolymers and/or their adsorption by the biofilm, and adsorption of humic substances by the activated carbon, as indicated by size exclusion chromatography. Coagulation or MIEX followed by BAC treatment further reduced the problematic foulants and significantly improved the flux performance. The unified membrane fouling index showed that the reduction of membrane fouling by standalone BAC treatment was 42%. This improved to 65%, 70%, and 93% for alum, ferric chloride and MIEX pre-treatment, respectively, when followed by BAC treatment. This study showed the potential of sequential MIEX and BAC pre-treatment for controlling organic fouling and thus enhancing the performance of microfiltration in the reclamation of BTSE. Full article
Open AccessArticle
Impact of PAC Fines in Fouling of Polymeric and Ceramic Low-Pressure Membranes for Drinking Water Treatment
Membranes 2016, 6(3), 38; doi:10.3390/membranes6030038 -
Abstract
This study assessed the issue of membrane fouling in a Hybrid Membrane Process (HMP) due to the export of powdered activated carbon (PAC) fines from a pretreatment contactor. Two parallel pilot-scale ceramic and polymeric membranes were studied. Reversible and irreversible foulings were [...] Read more.
This study assessed the issue of membrane fouling in a Hybrid Membrane Process (HMP) due to the export of powdered activated carbon (PAC) fines from a pretreatment contactor. Two parallel pilot-scale ceramic and polymeric membranes were studied. Reversible and irreversible foulings were measured following three cleaning procedures: Physical backwashing (BW), chemically enhanced backwashing (CEB) and Clean-in-Place (CIP). The impacts on fouling of membrane type, operation flux increase and the presence/absence of the PAC pretreatment were investigated. Membranes without pretreatment were operated in parallel as a control. In addition, CIP washwaters samples were analyzed to measure organic and inorganic foulants removed from the membranes. It was observed that for the polymeric membranes, fouling generally increased with the presence of the PAC pretreatment because of the export of fines. On the contrary, the ceramic membranes were not significantly impacted by their presence. The analysis of CIP washwaters showed a greater total organic carbon (TOC) content on membranes with a PAC pretreatment while no similar conclusion could be made for inorganic foulants. Full article
Open AccessReview
Efficiently Combining Water Reuse and Desalination through Forward Osmosis—Reverse Osmosis (FO-RO) Hybrids: A Critical Review
Membranes 2016, 6(3), 37; doi:10.3390/membranes6030037 -
Abstract
Forward osmosis (FO) is a promising membrane technology to combine seawater desalination and water reuse. More specifically, in a FO-reverse osmosis (RO) hybrid process, high quality water recovered from the wastewater stream is used to dilute seawater before RO treatment. As such, [...] Read more.
Forward osmosis (FO) is a promising membrane technology to combine seawater desalination and water reuse. More specifically, in a FO-reverse osmosis (RO) hybrid process, high quality water recovered from the wastewater stream is used to dilute seawater before RO treatment. As such, lower desalination energy needs and/or water augmentation can be obtained while delivering safe water for direct potable reuse thanks to the double dense membrane barrier protection. Typically, FO-RO hybrid can be a credible alternative to new desalination facilities or to implementation of stand-alone water reuse schemes. However, apart from the societal (public perception of water reuse for potable application) and water management challenges (proximity of wastewater and desalination plants), FO-RO hybrid has to overcome technical limitation such as low FO permeation flux to become economically attractive. Recent developments (i.e., improved FO membranes, use of pressure assisted osmosis, PAO) demonstrated significant improvement in water flux. However, flux improvement is associated with drawbacks, such as increased fouling behaviour, lower rejection of trace organic compounds (TrOCs) in PAO operation, and limitation in FO membrane mechanical resistance, which need to be better considered. To support successful implementation of FO-RO hybrid in the industry, further work is required regarding up-scaling to apprehend full-scale challenges in term of mass transfer limitation, pressure drop, fouling and cleaning strategies on a module scale. In addition, refined economics assessment is expected to integrate fouling and other maintenance costs/savings of the FO/PAO-RO hybrid systems, as well as cost savings from any treatment step avoided in the water recycling. Full article
Open AccessArticle
Biochip for the Detection of Bacillus anthracis Lethal Factor and Therapeutic Agents against Anthrax Toxins
Membranes 2016, 6(3), 36; doi:10.3390/membranes6030036 -
Abstract
Tethered lipid bilayer membranes (tBLMs) have been used in many applications, including biosensing and membrane protein structure studies. This report describes a biosensor for anthrax toxins that was fabricated through the self-assembly of a tBLM with B. anthracis protective antigen ion channels [...] Read more.
Tethered lipid bilayer membranes (tBLMs) have been used in many applications, including biosensing and membrane protein structure studies. This report describes a biosensor for anthrax toxins that was fabricated through the self-assembly of a tBLM with B. anthracis protective antigen ion channels that are both the recognition element and electrochemical transducer. We characterize the sensor and its properties with electrochemical impedance spectroscopy and surface plasmon resonance. The sensor shows a sensitivity similar to ELISA and can also be used to rapidly screen for molecules that bind to the toxins and potentially inhibit their lethal effects. Full article
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Open AccessArticle
Development of High-Antifouling PPSU Ultrafiltration Membrane by Using Compound Additives: Preparation, Morphologies, and Filtration Resistant Properties
Membranes 2016, 6(2), 35; doi:10.3390/membranes6020035 -
Abstract
In this study, flat sheet asymmetric polyphenylsulfone (PPSU) ultrafiltration membranes with enhanced antifouling properties were prepared with a non-solvent induced phase separation (NIPS) method through compound additives containing a polymeric pore-forming agent, a small molecular non-solvent and a surfactant. The formation processes [...] Read more.
In this study, flat sheet asymmetric polyphenylsulfone (PPSU) ultrafiltration membranes with enhanced antifouling properties were prepared with a non-solvent induced phase separation (NIPS) method through compound additives containing a polymeric pore-forming agent, a small molecular non-solvent and a surfactant. The formation processes of the porous asymmetric membranes with different kinds of additives were studied in detail, and the microstructure controllable preparation of membrane was achieved by establishing a bridge between the membrane preparation parameters and separation performances. All prepared membranes were characterized by using a scanning electron microscope (SEM), contact angle analysis, porosity, maximum pore size, water and BSA solution permeability studies. The performance efficiency of the membrane was evaluated by using BSA as a model foulant in terms of permeability, solute rejection (R), Rm (membrane inherent resistance), Rc (cake layer resistance), and Rp (pore plugging resistance). The results showed that when the compound additives were used, the inter-connected pores were observed, maximum pore size, contact angle and membrane filtration resistance decreased, while the porosity increased. When PVP compound additives were added, the water flux increased from 80.4 to 148.1 L/(m2·h), the BSA rejection increased from 53.2% to 81.5%. A similar trend was observed for membranes with added PEG compound additives; the water flux and BSA rejection simultaneously increased. The filtration resistance decreased as a result of compound additives. The uniformity of membrane and the number of effective pores could be enhanced by adding compound additives through the cooperation of different additives. Full article
Open AccessArticle
Emulsification Characteristics Using a Dynamic Woven Metal Microscreen Membrane
Membranes 2016, 6(2), 34; doi:10.3390/membranes6020034 -
Abstract
An oscillatory emulsification system for the production of oil in water emulsions using a commercially available low-cost woven metal microscreen (WMMS) is investigated. The system allows for independent control of both the oscillation frequencies and amplitudes such that it provides two degrees [...] Read more.
An oscillatory emulsification system for the production of oil in water emulsions using a commercially available low-cost woven metal microscreen (WMMS) is investigated. The system allows for independent control of both the oscillation frequencies and amplitudes such that it provides two degrees of freedom for controlling the emulsion properties. The investigations included the production of both surfactant and particle-stabilized emulsions. The average droplet size was found to decrease when both the oscillation frequency and amplitude was increased. For surfactant-stabilized emulsions, using bi-surfactants in both the continuous and dispersed phases resulted in a smaller droplet size due to lower interfacial tension. For particle-stabilized emulsions, both the hydrodynamics of the system and the hydrophobic and hydrophilic nature of the stabilizing particles influenced the interfacial properties at the oil–water interface, which in turn affected the final droplet size and distribution with potential droplet breakage. In absence of the latter, a simple torque balance model can be used to reasonably predict the average emulsion droplet size. Full article
Open AccessReview
Membrane Bioreactor (MBR) Technology for Wastewater Treatment and Reclamation: Membrane Fouling
Membranes 2016, 6(2), 33; doi:10.3390/membranes6020033 -
Abstract
The membrane bioreactor (MBR) has emerged as an efficient compact technology for municipal and industrial wastewater treatment. The major drawback impeding wider application of MBRs is membrane fouling, which significantly reduces membrane performance and lifespan, resulting in a significant increase in maintenance [...] Read more.
The membrane bioreactor (MBR) has emerged as an efficient compact technology for municipal and industrial wastewater treatment. The major drawback impeding wider application of MBRs is membrane fouling, which significantly reduces membrane performance and lifespan, resulting in a significant increase in maintenance and operating costs. Finding sustainable membrane fouling mitigation strategies in MBRs has been one of the main concerns over the last two decades. This paper provides an overview of membrane fouling and studies conducted to identify mitigating strategies for fouling in MBRs. Classes of foulants, including biofoulants, organic foulants and inorganic foulants, as well as factors influencing membrane fouling are outlined. Recent research attempts on fouling control, including addition of coagulants and adsorbents, combination of aerobic granulation with MBRs, introduction of granular materials with air scouring in the MBR tank, and quorum quenching are presented. The addition of coagulants and adsorbents shows a significant membrane fouling reduction, but further research is needed to establish optimum dosages of the various coagulants/adsorbents. Similarly, the integration of aerobic granulation with MBRs, which targets biofoulants and organic foulants, shows outstanding filtration performance and a significant reduction in fouling rate, as well as excellent nutrients removal. However, further research is needed on the enhancement of long-term granule integrity. Quorum quenching also offers a strong potential for fouling control, but pilot-scale testing is required to explore the feasibility of full-scale application. Full article
Open AccessErratum
Erratum: Nicotera, I.; Angjeli, K.; Coppola, L.; Aricò, A.S.; Baglio, V. NMR and Electrochemical Investigation of the Transport Properties of Methanol and Water in Nafion and Clay-Nanocomposites Membranes for DMFCs. Membranes 2012, 2, 325–345
Membranes 2016, 6(2), 32; doi:10.3390/membranes6020032 -
Open AccessArticle
Preparation and Characterization of Facilitated Transport Membranes Composed of Chitosan-Styrene and Chitosan-Acrylonitrile Copolymers Modified by Methylimidazolium Based Ionic Liquids for CO2 Separation from CH4 and N2
Membranes 2016, 6(2), 31; doi:10.3390/membranes6020031 -
Abstract
CO2 separation was found to be facilitated by transport membranes based on novel chitosan (CS)–poly(styrene) (PS) and chitosan (CS)–poly(acrylonitrile) (PAN) copolymer matrices doped with methylimidazolium based ionic liquids: [bmim][BF4], [bmim][PF6], and [bmim][Tf2N] (IL). CS plays [...] Read more.
CO2 separation was found to be facilitated by transport membranes based on novel chitosan (CS)–poly(styrene) (PS) and chitosan (CS)–poly(acrylonitrile) (PAN) copolymer matrices doped with methylimidazolium based ionic liquids: [bmim][BF4], [bmim][PF6], and [bmim][Tf2N] (IL). CS plays the role of biodegradable film former and selectivity promoter. Copolymers were prepared implementing the latest achievements in radical copolymerization with chosen monomers, which enabled the achievement of outstanding mechanical strength values for the CS-based membranes (75–104 MPa for CS-PAN and 69–75 MPa for CS-PS). Ionic liquid (IL) doping affected the surface and mechanical properties of the membranes as well as the gas separation properties. The highest CO2 permeability 400 Barrers belongs to CS-b-PS/[bmim][BF4]. The highest selectivity α (CO2/N2) = 15.5 was achieved for CS-b-PAN/[bmim][BF4]. The operational temperature of the membranes is under 220 °C. Full article
Open AccessReview
Tethered and Polymer Supported Bilayer Lipid Membranes: Structure and Function
Membranes 2016, 6(2), 30; doi:10.3390/membranes6020030 -
Abstract
Solid supported bilayer lipid membranes are model systems to mimic natural cell membranes in order to understand structural and functional properties of such systems. The use of a model system allows for the use of a wide variety of analytical tools including [...] Read more.
Solid supported bilayer lipid membranes are model systems to mimic natural cell membranes in order to understand structural and functional properties of such systems. The use of a model system allows for the use of a wide variety of analytical tools including atomic force microscopy, impedance spectroscopy, neutron reflectometry, and surface plasmon resonance spectroscopy. Among the large number of different types of model membranes polymer-supported and tethered lipid bilayers have been shown to be versatile and useful systems. Both systems consist of a lipid bilayer, which is de-coupled from an underlying support by a spacer cushion. Both systems will be reviewed, with an emphasis on the effect that the spacer moiety has on the bilayer properties. Full article
Open AccessArticle
Production of Fluconazole-Loaded Polymeric Micelles Using Membrane and Microfluidic Dispersion Devices
Membranes 2016, 6(2), 29; doi:10.3390/membranes6020029 -
Abstract
Polymeric micelles with a controlled size in the range between 41 and 80 nm were prepared by injecting the organic phase through a microengineered nickel membrane or a tapered-end glass capillary into an aqueous phase. The organic phase was composed of 1 [...] Read more.
Polymeric micelles with a controlled size in the range between 41 and 80 nm were prepared by injecting the organic phase through a microengineered nickel membrane or a tapered-end glass capillary into an aqueous phase. The organic phase was composed of 1 mg·mL−1 of PEG-b-PCL diblock copolymers with variable molecular weights, dissolved in tetrahydrofuran (THF) or acetone. The pore size of the membrane was 20 μm and the aqueous/organic phase volumetric flow rate ratio ranged from 1.5 to 10. Block copolymers were successfully synthesized with Mn ranging from ~9700 to 16,000 g·mol−1 and polymeric micelles were successfully produced from both devices. Micelles produced from the membrane device were smaller than those produced from the microfluidic device, due to the much smaller pore size compared with the orifice size in a co-flow device. The micelles were found to be relatively stable in terms of their size with an initial decrease in size attributed to evaporation of residual solvent rather than their structural disintegration. Fluconazole was loaded into the cores of micelles by injecting the organic phase composed of 0.5–2.5 mg·mL−1 fluconazole and 1.5 mg·mL−1 copolymer. The size of the drug-loaded micelles was found to be significantly larger than the size of empty micelles. Full article
Open AccessArticle
Mixed Matrix Membranes for O2/N2 Separation: The Influence of Temperature
Membranes 2016, 6(2), 28; doi:10.3390/membranes6020028 -
Abstract
In this work, mixed matrix membranes (MMMs) composed of small-pore zeolites with various topologies (CHA (Si/Al = 5), LTA (Si/Al = 1 and 5), and Rho (Si/Al = 5)) as dispersed phase, and the hugely permeable poly(1-trimethylsilyl-1-propyne) (PTMSP) as continuous phase, have [...] Read more.
In this work, mixed matrix membranes (MMMs) composed of small-pore zeolites with various topologies (CHA (Si/Al = 5), LTA (Si/Al = 1 and 5), and Rho (Si/Al = 5)) as dispersed phase, and the hugely permeable poly(1-trimethylsilyl-1-propyne) (PTMSP) as continuous phase, have been synthesized via solution casting, in order to obtain membranes that could be attractive for oxygen-enriched air production. The O2/N2 gas separation performance of the MMMs has been analyzed in terms of permeability, diffusivity, and solubility in the temperature range of 298–333 K. The higher the temperature of the oxygen-enriched stream, the lower the energy required for the combustion process. The effect of temperature on the gas permeability, diffusivity, and solubility of these MMMs is described in terms of the Arrhenius and Van’t Hoff relationships with acceptable accuracy. Moreover, the O2/N2 permselectivity of the MMMs increases with temperature, the O2/N2 selectivities being considerably higher than those of the pure PTMSP. In consequence, most of the MMMs prepared in this work exceeded the Robeson’s upper bound for the O2/N2 gas pair in the temperature range under study, with not much decrease in the O2 permeabilities, reaching O2/N2 selectivities of up to 8.43 and O2 permeabilities up to 4,800 Barrer at 333 K. Full article
Open AccessArticle
Controlled Bulk Properties of Composite Polymeric Solutions for Extensive Structural Order of Honeycomb Polysulfone Membranes
Membranes 2016, 6(2), 27; doi:10.3390/membranes6020027 -
Abstract
This work provides additional insights into the identification of operating conditions necessary to overcome a current limitation to the scale-up of the breath figure method, which is regarded as an outstanding manufacturing approach for structurally ordered porous films. The major restriction concerns, [...] Read more.
This work provides additional insights into the identification of operating conditions necessary to overcome a current limitation to the scale-up of the breath figure method, which is regarded as an outstanding manufacturing approach for structurally ordered porous films. The major restriction concerns, indeed, uncontrolled touching droplets at the boundary. Herein, the bulk of polymeric solutions are properly managed to generate honeycomb membranes with a long-range structurally ordered texture. Water uptake and dynamics are explored as chemical environments are changed with the intent to modify the hydrophilic/hydrophobic balance and local water floatation. In this context, a model surfactant such as the polyoxyethylene sorbitan monolaurate is used in combination with alcohols at different chain length extents and a traditional polymer such as the polyethersufone. Changes in the interfacial tension and kinematic viscosity taking place in the bulk of composite solutions are explored and examined in relation to competitive droplet nucleation and growth rate. As a result, extensive structurally ordered honeycomb textures are obtained with the rising content of the surfactant while a broad range of well-sized pores is targeted as a function of the hydrophilic-hydrophobic balance and viscosity of the composite polymeric mixture. The experimental findings confirm the consistency of the approach and are expected to give propulsion to the commercially production of breath figures films shortly. Full article
Open AccessReview
Linking Findings in Microfluidics to Membrane Emulsification Process Design: The Importance of Wettability and Component Interactions with Interfaces
Membranes 2016, 6(2), 26; doi:10.3390/membranes6020026 -
Abstract
In microfluidics and other microstructured devices, wettability changes, as a result of component interactions with the solid wall, can have dramatic effects. In emulsion separation and emulsification applications, the desired behavior can even be completely lost. Wettability changes also occur in one [...] Read more.
In microfluidics and other microstructured devices, wettability changes, as a result of component interactions with the solid wall, can have dramatic effects. In emulsion separation and emulsification applications, the desired behavior can even be completely lost. Wettability changes also occur in one phase systems, but the effect is much more far-reaching when using two-phase systems. For microfluidic emulsification devices, this can be elegantly demonstrated and quantified for EDGE (Edge-base Droplet GEneration) devices that have a specific behavior that allows us to distinguish between surfactant and liquid interactions with the solid surface. Based on these findings, design rules can be defined for emulsification with any micro-structured emulsification device, such as direct and premix membrane emulsification. In general, it can be concluded that mostly surface interactions increase the contact angle toward 90°, either through the surfactant, or the oil that is used. This leads to poor process stability, and very limited pressure ranges at which small droplets can be made in microfluidic systems, and cross-flow membrane emulsification. In a limited number of cases, surface interactions can also lead to lower contact angles, thereby increasing the operational stability. This paper concludes with a guideline that can be used to come to the appropriate combination of membrane construction material (or any micro-structured device), surfactants and liquids, in combination with process conditions. Full article
Open AccessArticle
Microencapsulation by Membrane Emulsification of Biophenols Recovered from Olive Mill Wastewaters
Membranes 2016, 6(2), 25; doi:10.3390/membranes6020025 -
Abstract
Biophenols are highly prized for their free radical scavenging and antioxidant activities. Olive mill wastewaters (OMWWs) are rich in biophenols. For this reason, there is a growing interest in the recovery and valorization of these compounds. Applications for the encapsulation have increased [...] Read more.
Biophenols are highly prized for their free radical scavenging and antioxidant activities. Olive mill wastewaters (OMWWs) are rich in biophenols. For this reason, there is a growing interest in the recovery and valorization of these compounds. Applications for the encapsulation have increased in the food industry as well as the pharmaceutical and cosmetic fields, among others. Advancements in micro-fabrication methods are needed to design new functional particles with target properties in terms of size, size distribution, and functional activity. This paper describes the use of the membrane emulsification method for the fine-tuning of microparticle production with biofunctional activity. In particular, in this pioneering work, membrane emulsification has been used as an advanced method for biophenols encapsulation. Catechol has been used as a biophenol model, while a biophenols mixture recovered from OMWWs were used as a real matrix. Water-in-oil emulsions with droplet sizes approximately 2.3 times the membrane pore diameter, a distribution span of 0.33, and high encapsulation efficiency (98% ± 1% and 92% ± 3%, for catechol and biophenols, respectively) were produced. The release of biophenols was also investigated. Full article