Editor's Choice Articles

Editor’s Choice articles are based on recommendations by the scientific editors of MDPI journals from around the world. Editors select a small number of articles recently published in the journal that they believe will be particularly interesting to authors, or important in this field. The aim is to provide a snapshot of some of the most exciting work published in the various research areas of the journal.

Order results
Result details
Select all
Export citation of selected articles as:

Research

Jump to: Review, Other

Article
Rapid Production and Purification of Dye-Loaded Liposomes by Electrodialysis-Driven Depletion
Membranes 2021, 11(6), 417; https://doi.org/10.3390/membranes11060417 - 31 May 2021
Abstract
Liposomes are spherical-shaped vesicles that enclose an aqueous milieu surrounded by bilayer or multilayer membranes formed by self-assembly of lipid molecules. They are intensively exploited as either model membranes for fundamental studies or as vehicles for delivery of active substances in vivo and [...] Read more.
Liposomes are spherical-shaped vesicles that enclose an aqueous milieu surrounded by bilayer or multilayer membranes formed by self-assembly of lipid molecules. They are intensively exploited as either model membranes for fundamental studies or as vehicles for delivery of active substances in vivo and in vitro. Irrespective of the method adopted for production of loaded liposomes, obtaining the final purified product is often achieved by employing multiple, time consuming steps. To alleviate this problem, we propose a simplified approach for concomitant production and purification of loaded liposomes by exploiting the Electrodialysis-Driven Depletion of charged molecules from solutions. Our investigations show that electrically-driven migration of charged detergent and dye molecules from solutions that include natural or synthetic lipid mixtures leads to rapid self-assembly of loaded, purified liposomes, as inferred from microscopy and fluorescence spectroscopy assessments. In addition, the same procedure was successfully applied for incorporating PEGylated lipids into the membranes for the purpose of enabling long-circulation times needed for potential in vivo applications. Dynamic Light Scattering analyses and comparison of electrically-formed liposomes with liposomes produced by sonication or extrusion suggest potential use for numerous in vitro and in vivo applications. Full article
(This article belongs to the Collection Feature Papers in Membranes in Life Sciences)
Show Figures

Figure 1

Article
Silica Fouling in Reverse Osmosis Systems–Operando Small-Angle Neutron Scattering Studies
Membranes 2021, 11(6), 413; https://doi.org/10.3390/membranes11060413 - 30 May 2021
Abstract
We present operando small-angle neutron scattering (SANS) experiments on silica fouling at two reverse osmose (RO) membranes under almost realistic conditions of practiced RO desalination technique. To its realization, two cells were designed for pressure fields and tangential feed cross-flows up to 50 [...] Read more.
We present operando small-angle neutron scattering (SANS) experiments on silica fouling at two reverse osmose (RO) membranes under almost realistic conditions of practiced RO desalination technique. To its realization, two cells were designed for pressure fields and tangential feed cross-flows up to 50 bar and 36 L/h, one cell equipped with the membrane and the other one as an empty cell to measure the feed solution in parallel far from the membrane. We studied several aqueous silica dispersions combining the parameters of colloidal radius, volume fraction, and ionic strength. A relevant result is the observation of Bragg diffraction as part of the SANS scattering pattern, representing a crystalline cake layer of simple cubic lattice structure. Other relevant parameters are silica colloidal size and volume fraction far from and above the membrane, as well as the lattice parameter of the silica cake layer, its volume fraction, thickness, and porosity in comparison with the corresponding permeate flux. The experiments show that the formation of cake layer depends to a large extent on colloidal size, ionic strength and cross-flow. Cake layer formation proved to be a reversible process, which could be dissolved at larger cross-flow. Only in one case we observed an irreversible cake layer formation showing the characteristics of an unstable phase transition. We likewise observed enhanced silica concentration and/or cake formation above the membrane, giving indication of a first order liquid–solid phase transformation. Full article
Show Figures

Graphical abstract

Article
Carbon Dioxide Enrichment PEBAX/MOF Composite Membrane for CO2 Separation
Membranes 2021, 11(6), 404; https://doi.org/10.3390/membranes11060404 - 28 May 2021
Abstract
Zeolitic imidazole framework (ZIF-8) was incorporated into poly(ether-block-amide) (Pebax-1657) in differing ratios to prepare mixed matrix membranes (MMMs) for gas separation. As ZIF-8 loading is increased, gas separation selectivity also gradually increases. For economic considerations, the proportion of the increase in selectivity to [...] Read more.
Zeolitic imidazole framework (ZIF-8) was incorporated into poly(ether-block-amide) (Pebax-1657) in differing ratios to prepare mixed matrix membranes (MMMs) for gas separation. As ZIF-8 loading is increased, gas separation selectivity also gradually increases. For economic considerations, the proportion of the increase in selectivity to the amount of MOF loaded per unit was calculated. The results show that mixing 5% MOF gives the best unit performance. With this, a variety of MOFs (UiO-66, UiO-66-NH2, A520, MIL-68(Al) and MIL-100(Fe)) were mixed with PEBAX at 5 loading to prepare MMMs. In this work, metal-organic frameworks (MOFs) were processed using the dry-free method, where in the synthesized MOF was not dried prior to incorporation. The gas separation performance test carried out shows the highest separation performance was exhibited by P-UiO-66, wherein the CO2/N2 gas selectivity was 85.94, and the permeability was 189.77 (Barrer), which was higher than Robeson’s Upper bound in 2008, and obtained a high permeability and selectivity among mixed matrix membranes. In the preparation of high quality MMMs for gas separation, details regarding the interface phenomenon were assessed. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Advances in MOF-Based Membranes)
Show Figures

Figure 1

Article
Use of the Microheterogeneous Model to Assess the Applicability of Ion-Exchange Membranes in the Process of Generating Electricity from a Concentration Gradient
Membranes 2021, 11(6), 406; https://doi.org/10.3390/membranes11060406 - 28 May 2021
Abstract
The paper shows the possibility of using a microheterogeneous model to estimate the transport numbers of counterions through ion-exchange membranes. It is possible to calculate the open-circuit potential and power density of the reverse electrodialyzer using the data obtained. Eight samples of heterogeneous [...] Read more.
The paper shows the possibility of using a microheterogeneous model to estimate the transport numbers of counterions through ion-exchange membranes. It is possible to calculate the open-circuit potential and power density of the reverse electrodialyzer using the data obtained. Eight samples of heterogeneous ion-exchange membranes were studied, two samples for each of the following types of membranes: Ralex CM, Ralex AMH, MK-40, and MA-41. Samples in each pair differed in the year of production and storage conditions. In the work, these samples were named “batch 1” and “batch 2”. According to the microheterogeneous model, to calculate the transport numbers of counterions, it is necessary to use the concentration dependence of the electrical conductivity and diffusion permeability. The electrolyte used was a sodium chloride solution with a concentration range corresponding to the conditional composition of river water and the salinity of the Black Sea. During the research, it was found that samples of Ralex membranes of different batches have similar characteristics over the entire range of investigated concentrations. The calculated values of the transfer numbers for membranes of different batches differ insignificantly: ±0.01 for Ralex AMH in 1 M NaCl. For MK-40 and MA-41 membranes, a significant scatter of characteristics was found, especially in concentrated solutions. As a result, in 1 M NaCl, the transport numbers differ by ±0.05 for MK-40 and ±0.1 for MA-41. The value of the open circuit potential for the Ralex membrane pair showed that the experimental values of the potential are slightly lower than the theoretical ones. At the same time, the maximum calculated power density is higher than the experimental values. The maximum power density achieved in the experiment on reverse electrodialysis was 0.22 W/m2, which is in good agreement with the known literature data for heterogeneous membranes. The discrepancy between the experimental and theoretical data may be the difference in the characteristics of the membranes used in the reverse electrodialysis process from the tested samples and does not consider the shadow effect of the spacer in the channels of the electrodialyzer. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Membrane-based Technologies for Water and Energy Sustainability)
Show Figures

Figure 1

Article
Enhanced Performance of Polymer Electrolyte Membranes via Modification with Ionic Liquids for Fuel Cell Applications
Membranes 2021, 11(6), 395; https://doi.org/10.3390/membranes11060395 - 27 May 2021
Abstract
The polymer electrolyte membrane (PEM) is a key component in the PEM fuel cell (PEMFC) system. This study highlights the latest development of PEM technology by combining Nafion® and ionic liquids, namely 2–Hydroxyethylammonium Formate (2–HEAF) and Propylammonium Nitrate (PAN). Test membranes were [...] Read more.
The polymer electrolyte membrane (PEM) is a key component in the PEM fuel cell (PEMFC) system. This study highlights the latest development of PEM technology by combining Nafion® and ionic liquids, namely 2–Hydroxyethylammonium Formate (2–HEAF) and Propylammonium Nitrate (PAN). Test membranes were prepared using the casting technique. The impact of functional groups in grafting, morphology, thermal stability, ion exchange capacity, water absorption, swelling and proton conductivity for the prepared membranes is discussed. Both hybrid membranes showed higher values in ion exchange capacity, water uptake and swelling rate as compared to the recast pure Nafion® membrane. The results also show that the proton conductivity of Nafion®/2–HEAF and Nafion®/PAN membranes increased with increasing ionic liquid concentrations. The maximum values of proton conductivity for Nafion®/2–HEAF and Nafion®/PAN membranes were 2.87 and 4.55 mScm−1, respectively, equivalent to 2.2 and 3.5 times that of the pure recast Nafion® membrane. Full article
Show Figures

Figure 1

Article
Study of Anion Exchange Membrane Properties Incorporating N-spirocyclic Quaternary Ammonium Cations and Aqueous Organic Redox Flow Battery Performance
Membranes 2021, 11(5), 367; https://doi.org/10.3390/membranes11050367 - 18 May 2021
Abstract
Flexible cross-linked anion exchange membranes (AEMs) based on poly (p-phenylene oxide) grafted with N-spirocyclic quaternary ammonium cations were synthesized via UV-induced free-radical polymerization by using diallylpiperidinium chloride as an ionic monomer. Five membranes with ion exchange capacity (IEC) varying between [...] Read more.
Flexible cross-linked anion exchange membranes (AEMs) based on poly (p-phenylene oxide) grafted with N-spirocyclic quaternary ammonium cations were synthesized via UV-induced free-radical polymerization by using diallylpiperidinium chloride as an ionic monomer. Five membranes with ion exchange capacity (IEC) varying between 1.5 to 2.8 mmol Cl·g−1 polymer were obtained and the correlation between IEC, water uptake, state of water in the membrane and ionic conductivity was studied. In the second part of this study, the influence of properties of four of these membranes on cell cycling stability and performance was investigated in an aqueous organic redox flow battery (AORFB) employing dimethyl viologen (MV) and N,N,N-2,2,6,6-heptamethylpiperidinyl oxy-4-ammonium chloride (TMA-TEMPO). The influence of membrane properties on cell cycling stability and performance was studied. At low-current density (20 mA·cm−2), the best capacity retention was obtained with lower IEC membranes for which the water uptake, freezable water and TMA-TEMPO and MV crossover are low. However, at a high current density (80 mA·cm−2), membrane resistance plays an important role and a membrane with moderate IEC, more precisely, moderate ion conductivity and water uptake was found to maintain the best overall cell performance. The results in this work contribute to the basic understanding of the relationship between membrane properties and cell performance, providing insights guiding the development of advanced membranes to improve the efficiency and power capability for AORFB systems. Full article
(This article belongs to the Section Membrane Analysis and Characterization)
Show Figures

Figure 1

Article
Physical Properties and Reactivity of Microdomains in Phosphatidylinositol-Containing Supported Lipid Bilayer
Membranes 2021, 11(5), 339; https://doi.org/10.3390/membranes11050339 - 03 May 2021
Abstract
We characterized the size, distribution, and fluidity of microdomains in a lipid bilayer containing phosphatidylinositol (PI) and revealed their roles during the two-dimensional assembly of a membrane deformation protein (FBP17). The morphology of the supported lipid bilayer (SLB) consisting of PI and phosphatidylcholine [...] Read more.
We characterized the size, distribution, and fluidity of microdomains in a lipid bilayer containing phosphatidylinositol (PI) and revealed their roles during the two-dimensional assembly of a membrane deformation protein (FBP17). The morphology of the supported lipid bilayer (SLB) consisting of PI and phosphatidylcholine (PC) on a mica substrate was observed with atomic force microscope (AFM). Single particle tracking (SPT) was performed for the PI+PC-SLB on the mica substrate by using the diagonal illumination setup. The AFM topography showed that PI-derived submicron domains existed in the PI+PC-SLB. The spatiotemporal dependence of the lateral lipid diffusion obtained by SPT showed that the microdomain had lower fluidity than the surrounding region and worked as the obstacles for the lipid diffusion. We observed the two-dimensional assembly of FBP17, which is one of F-BAR family proteins included in endocytosis processes and has the function generating lipid bilayer tubules in vitro. At the initial stage of the FBP17 assembly, the PI-derived microdomain worked as a scaffold for the FBP17 adsorption, and the fluid surrounding region supplied FBP17 to grow the FBP17 domain via the lateral molecular diffusion. This study demonstrated an example clearly revealing the roles of two lipid microregions during the protein reaction on a lipid bilayer. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Interaction of Proteins with Biomembrane)
Show Figures

Graphical abstract

Article
Calixresorcin[4]arene-Mediated Transport of Pb(II) Ions through Polymer Inclusion Membrane
Membranes 2021, 11(4), 285; https://doi.org/10.3390/membranes11040285 - 13 Apr 2021
Abstract
A facilitated transport of Pb(II) through polymer inclusion membrane (PIM) containing 1,8,15,22-tetra(1-heptyl)-calixresorcin[4]arene and its tetra- and octasubstituted derivatives containing phosphoryl, thiophosphoryl or ester groups as an ion carrier was investigated. The efficiency of Pb(II) removal from aqueous nitrate solutions was considered as a [...] Read more.
A facilitated transport of Pb(II) through polymer inclusion membrane (PIM) containing 1,8,15,22-tetra(1-heptyl)-calixresorcin[4]arene and its tetra- and octasubstituted derivatives containing phosphoryl, thiophosphoryl or ester groups as an ion carrier was investigated. The efficiency of Pb(II) removal from aqueous nitrate solutions was considered as a function of the composition of membrane (effect of polymer, plasticizer, and carrier), feed (effect of initial metal concentration and presence of other metal ions) and stripping phases, and temperature of the process conducting. Two kinetic models were applied for the transport description. The highest Pb(II) ions removal efficiency was obtained for the membrane with tetrathiophosphorylated heptyl-calixresorcin[4]arene as an ion carrier. The activation energy value, found from Eyring plot to be equal 38.7 ± 1.3 kJ/mol, suggests that the transport process is controllable both by diffusion and chemical reaction. The competitive transport of Pb(II) over Zn(II), Cd(II), and Cr(III) ions across PIMs under the optimal conditions was also performed. It was found that the Cr(III) ions’ presence in the feed phase disturb effective re-extraction of Pb(II) ions from membrane to stripping phase. Better stability of PIM-type than SLM-type membrane was found. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Polymer Membranes in Separation Process)
Show Figures

Graphical abstract

Article
The C-Terminus of Perilipin 3 Shows Distinct Lipid Binding at Phospholipid-Oil-Aqueous Interfaces
Membranes 2021, 11(4), 265; https://doi.org/10.3390/membranes11040265 - 06 Apr 2021
Cited by 1
Abstract
Lipid droplets (LDs) are ubiquitously expressed organelles; the only intracellular organelles that contain a lipid monolayer rather than a bilayer. Proteins localize and bind to this monolayer as they do to intracellular lipid bilayers. The mechanism by which cytosolic LD binding proteins recognize, [...] Read more.
Lipid droplets (LDs) are ubiquitously expressed organelles; the only intracellular organelles that contain a lipid monolayer rather than a bilayer. Proteins localize and bind to this monolayer as they do to intracellular lipid bilayers. The mechanism by which cytosolic LD binding proteins recognize, and bind, to this lipid interface remains poorly understood. Amphipathic α-helix bundles form a common motif that is shared between cytosolic LD binding proteins (e.g., perilipins 2, 3, and 5) and apolipoproteins, such as apoE and apoLp-III, found on lipoprotein particles. Here, we use pendant drop tensiometry to expand our previous work on the C-terminal α-helix bundle of perilipin 3 and the full-length protein. We measure the recruitment and insertion of perilipin 3 at mixed lipid monolayers at an aqueous-phospholipid-oil interface. We find that, compared to its C-terminus alone, the full-length perilipin 3 has a higher affinity for both a neat oil/aqueous interface and a phosphatidylcholine (PC) coated oil/aqueous interface. Both the full-length protein and the C-terminus show significantly more insertion into a fully unsaturated PC monolayer, contrary to our previous results at the air-aqueous interface. Additionally, the C-terminus shows a preference for lipid monolayers containing phosphatidylethanolamine (PE), whereas the full-length protein does not. These results strongly support a model whereby both the N-terminal 11-mer repeat region and C-terminal amphipathic α-helix bundle domains of perilipin 3 have distinct lipid binding, and potentially biological roles. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Protein-Lipid Interactions as Key Regulators of Cell Function)
Show Figures

Figure 1

Article
Substrate-Independent, Regenerable Anti-Biofouling Coating for Polymeric Membranes
Membranes 2021, 11(3), 205; https://doi.org/10.3390/membranes11030205 - 13 Mar 2021
Abstract
Biofouling is a common but significant issue in the membrane process as it reduces permeate flux, increases energy costs, and shortens the life span of membranes. As an effective antibacterial agent, a small amount of silver nanoparticles (AgNPs) immobilized on membrane surfaces will [...] Read more.
Biofouling is a common but significant issue in the membrane process as it reduces permeate flux, increases energy costs, and shortens the life span of membranes. As an effective antibacterial agent, a small amount of silver nanoparticles (AgNPs) immobilized on membrane surfaces will alleviate the membrane from biofouling. However, loading AgNPs on the membrane surface remains a challenge due to the low loading efficiency or the lack of bonding stability between AgNPs and the membrane surface. In this study, a substrate-independent method is reported to immobilize silver nanoparticles on polymeric membrane surfaces by firstly modifying the membrane surface with functional groups and then forming silver nanoparticles in situ. The obtained membranes had good anti-biofouling properties as demonstrated from disk diffusion and anti-biofouling tests. The silver nanoparticles were stably immobilized on the membrane surfaces and easily regenerated. This method is applicable to various polymeric micro-, ultra-, nano-filtration and reverse osmosis (RO) membranes. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Nanostructured Membranes II)
Show Figures

Figure 1

Article
Trastuzumab Modulates the Protein Cargo of Extracellular Vesicles Released by ERBB2+ Breast Cancer Cells
Membranes 2021, 11(3), 199; https://doi.org/10.3390/membranes11030199 - 12 Mar 2021
Cited by 2
Abstract
Cancers overexpressing the ERBB2 oncogene are aggressive and associated with a poor prognosis. Trastuzumab is an ERBB2 specific recombinant antibody employed for the treatment of these diseases since it blocks ERBB2 signaling causing growth arrest and survival inhibition. While the effects of Trastuzumab [...] Read more.
Cancers overexpressing the ERBB2 oncogene are aggressive and associated with a poor prognosis. Trastuzumab is an ERBB2 specific recombinant antibody employed for the treatment of these diseases since it blocks ERBB2 signaling causing growth arrest and survival inhibition. While the effects of Trastuzumab on ERBB2 cancer cells are well known, those on the extracellular vesicles (EVs) released from these cells are scarce. This study focused on ERBB2+ breast cancer cells and aimed to establish what type of EVs they release and whether Trastuzumab affects their morphology and molecular composition. To these aims, we performed immunoelectron microscopy, immunoblot, and high-resolution mass spectrometry analyses on EVs purified by differential centrifugation of culture supernatant. Here, we show that EVs released from ERBB2+ breast cancer cells are polymorphic in size and appearance and that ERBB2 is preferentially associated with large (120 nm) EVs. Moreover, we report that Trastuzumab (Tz) induces the expression of a specific glycosylated 50 kDa isoform of the CD63 tetraspanin and modulates the expression of 51 EVs proteins, including TOP1. Because these proteins are functionally associated with organelle organization, cytokinesis, and response to lipids, we suggest that Tz may influence these cellular processes in target cells at distant sites via modified EVs. Full article
(This article belongs to the Collection Feature Papers in Membranes in Life Sciences)
Show Figures

Figure 1

Article
Interactions of Linear Analogues of Battacin with Negatively Charged Lipid Membranes
Membranes 2021, 11(3), 192; https://doi.org/10.3390/membranes11030192 - 10 Mar 2021
Cited by 1
Abstract
The increasing resistance of bacteria to available antibiotics has stimulated the search for new antimicrobial compounds with less specific mechanisms of action. These include the ability to disrupt the structure of the cell membrane, which in turn leads to its damage. In this [...] Read more.
The increasing resistance of bacteria to available antibiotics has stimulated the search for new antimicrobial compounds with less specific mechanisms of action. These include the ability to disrupt the structure of the cell membrane, which in turn leads to its damage. In this context, amphiphilic lipopeptides belong to the class of the compounds which may fulfill this requirement. In this paper, we describe two linear analogues of battacin with modified acyl chains to tune the balance between the hydrophilic and hydrophobic portion of lipopeptides. We demonstrate that both compounds display antimicrobial activity with the lowest values of minimum inhibitory concentrations found for Gram-positive pathogens. Therefore, their mechanism of action was evaluated on a molecular level using model lipid films mimicking the membrane of Gram-positive bacteria. The surface pressure measurements revealed that both lipopeptides show ability to bind and incorporate into the lipid monolayers, resulting in decreased ordering of lipids and membrane fluidization. Atomic force microscopy (AFM) imaging demonstrated that the exposure of the model bilayers to lipopeptides leads to a transition from the ordered gel phase to disordered liquid crystalline phase. This observation was confirmed by attenuated total reflection Fourier-transform infrared spectroscopy (ATR-FTIR) results, which revealed that lipopeptide action causes a substantial increase in the average tilt angle of lipid acyl chains with respect to the surface normal to compensate for lipopeptide insertion into the membrane. Moreover, the peptide moieties in both molecules do not adopt any well-defined secondary structure upon binding with the lipid membrane. It was also observed that a small difference in the structure of a lipophilic chain, altering the balance between hydrophobic and hydrophilic portion of the molecules, results in different insertion depth of the active compounds. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Dynamics of Drug Delivery to Model and Cell Membranes)
Show Figures

Figure 1

Article
Batch Reverse Osmosis Desalination Modeling under a Time-Dependent Pressure Profile
Membranes 2021, 11(3), 173; https://doi.org/10.3390/membranes11030173 - 28 Feb 2021
Cited by 1
Abstract
As world demand for clean water increases, reverse osmosis (RO) desalination has emerged as an attractive solution. Continuous RO is the most used desalination technology today. However, a new generation of configurations, working in unsteady-state feed concentration and pressure, have gained more attention [...] Read more.
As world demand for clean water increases, reverse osmosis (RO) desalination has emerged as an attractive solution. Continuous RO is the most used desalination technology today. However, a new generation of configurations, working in unsteady-state feed concentration and pressure, have gained more attention recently, including the batch RO process. Our work presents a mathematical modeling for batch RO that offers the possibility of monitoring all variables of the process, including specific energy consumption, as a function of time and the recovery ratio. Validation is achieved by comparison with data from the experimental set-up and an existing model in the literature. Energetic comparison with continuous RO processes confirms that batch RO can be more energy efficient than can continuous RO, especially at a higher recovery ratio. It used, at recovery, 31% less energy for seawater and 19% less energy for brackish water. Modeling also proves that the batch RO process does not have to function under constant flux to deliver good energetic performance. In fact, under a linear pressure profile, batch RO can still deliver better energetic performance than can a continuous configuration. The parameters analysis shows that salinity, pump and energy recovery devices efficiencies are directly linked to the energy demand. While increasing feed volume has a limited effect after a certain volume due to dilution, it also shows, interestingly, a recovery ratio interval in which feed volume does not affect specific energy consumption. Full article
Show Figures

Figure 1

Article
Effect of ZnO Nanoparticle Content on the Structural and Ionic Transport Parameters of Polyvinyl Alcohol Based Proton-Conducting Polymer Electrolyte Membranes
Membranes 2021, 11(3), 163; https://doi.org/10.3390/membranes11030163 - 26 Feb 2021
Cited by 3
Abstract
Proton conducting nanocomposite solid polymer electrolytes (NSPEs) based on polyvinyl alcohol/ammonium nitrate (PVA/NH4NO3) and different contents of zinc oxide nanoparticles (ZnO-NPs) have been prepared using the casting solution method. The XRD analysis revealed that the sample with 2 wt.% [...] Read more.
Proton conducting nanocomposite solid polymer electrolytes (NSPEs) based on polyvinyl alcohol/ammonium nitrate (PVA/NH4NO3) and different contents of zinc oxide nanoparticles (ZnO-NPs) have been prepared using the casting solution method. The XRD analysis revealed that the sample with 2 wt.% ZnO-NPs has a high amorphous content. The ionic conductivity analysis for the prepared membranes has been carried out over a wide range of frequencies at varying temperatures. Impedance analysis shows that sample with 2 wt.% ZnO-NPs has a smaller bulk resistance compared to that of undoped polymer electrolyte. A small amount of ZnO-NPs was found to enhance the proton-conduction significantly; the highest obtainable room-temperature ionic conductivity was 4.71 × 10−4 S/cm. The effect of ZnO-NP content on the transport parameters of the prepared proton-conducting NSPEs was investigated using the Rice–Roth model; the results reveal that the increase in ionic conductivity is due to an increment in the number of proton ions and their mobility. Full article
(This article belongs to the Section Polymeric Membranes)
Show Figures

Graphical abstract

Article
PLGA Multiplex Membrane Platform for Disease Modelling and Testing of Therapeutic Compounds
Membranes 2021, 11(2), 112; https://doi.org/10.3390/membranes11020112 - 05 Feb 2021
Cited by 1
Abstract
A proper validation of an engineered brain microenvironment requires a trade of between the complexity of a cellular construct within the in vitro platform and the simple implementation of the investigational tool. The present work aims to accomplish this challenging balance by setting [...] Read more.
A proper validation of an engineered brain microenvironment requires a trade of between the complexity of a cellular construct within the in vitro platform and the simple implementation of the investigational tool. The present work aims to accomplish this challenging balance by setting up an innovative membrane platform that represents a good compromise between a proper mimicked brain tissue analogue combined with an easily accessible and implemented membrane system. Another key aspect of the in vitro modelling disease is the identification of a precise phenotypic onset as a definite hallmark of the pathology that needs to be recapitulated within the implemented membrane system. On the basis of these assumptions, we propose a multiplex membrane system in which the recapitulation of specific neuro-pathological onsets related to Alzheimer’s disease pathologies, namely oxidative stress and β-amyloid1–42 toxicity, allowed us to test the neuroprotective effects of trans-crocetin on damaged neurons. The proposed multiplex membrane platform is therefore quite a versatile tool that allows the integration of neuronal pathological events in combination with the testing of new molecules. The present paper explores the use of this alternative methodology, which, relying on membrane technology approach, allows us to study the basic physiological and pathological behaviour of differentiated neuronal cells, as well as their changing behaviour, in response to new potential therapeutic treatment. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Membrane Systems for Tissue Engineering 2020)
Show Figures

Figure 1

Article
Block Copolymer-Based Magnetic Mixed Matrix Membranes—Effect of Magnetic Field on Protein Permeation and Membrane Fouling
Membranes 2021, 11(2), 105; https://doi.org/10.3390/membranes11020105 - 02 Feb 2021
Cited by 2
Abstract
In this study, we report the impact of the magnetic field on protein permeability through magnetic-responsive, block copolymer, nanocomposite membranes with hydrophilic and hydrophobic characters. The hydrophilic nanocomposite membranes were composed of spherical polymeric nanoparticles (NPs) synthesized through polymerization-induced self-assembly (PISA) with iron [...] Read more.
In this study, we report the impact of the magnetic field on protein permeability through magnetic-responsive, block copolymer, nanocomposite membranes with hydrophilic and hydrophobic characters. The hydrophilic nanocomposite membranes were composed of spherical polymeric nanoparticles (NPs) synthesized through polymerization-induced self-assembly (PISA) with iron oxide NPs coated with quaternized poly(2-dimethylamino)ethyl methacrylate. The hydrophobic nanocomposite membranes were prepared via nonsolvent-induced phase separation (NIPS) containing poly (methacrylic acid) and meso-2,3-dimercaptosuccinic acid-coated superparamagnetic nanoparticles (SPNPs). The permeation experiments were carried out using bovine serum albumin (BSA) as the model solute, in the absence of the magnetic field and under permanent and cyclic magnetic field conditions OFF/ON (strategy 1) and ON/OFF (strategy 2). It was observed that the magnetic field led to a lower reduction in the permeate fluxes of magnetic-responsive membranes during BSA permeation, regardless of the magnetic field strategy used, than that obtained in the absence of the magnetic field. Nevertheless, a comparative analysis of the effect caused by the two cyclic magnetic field strategies showed that strategy 2 allowed for a lower reduction of the original permeate fluxes during BSA permeation and higher protein sieving coefficients. Overall, these novel magneto-responsive block copolymer nanocomposite membranes proved to be competent in mitigating biofouling phenomena in bioseparation processes. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Membrane and Membrane Bioreactors Applied to Health and Life Sciences)
Show Figures

Graphical abstract

Article
Effect of Membrane Properties on the Carbonation of Anion Exchange Membrane Fuel Cells
Membranes 2021, 11(2), 102; https://doi.org/10.3390/membranes11020102 - 31 Jan 2021
Cited by 2
Abstract
Anion exchange membrane fuel cells (AEMFC) are potentially very low-cost replacements for proton exchange membrane fuel cells. However, AEMFCs suffer from one very serious drawback: significant performance loss when CO2 is present in the reacting oxidant gas (e.g., air) due to carbonation. [...] Read more.
Anion exchange membrane fuel cells (AEMFC) are potentially very low-cost replacements for proton exchange membrane fuel cells. However, AEMFCs suffer from one very serious drawback: significant performance loss when CO2 is present in the reacting oxidant gas (e.g., air) due to carbonation. Although the chemical mechanisms for how carbonation leads to voltage loss in operating AEMFCs are known, the way those mechanisms are affected by the properties of the anion exchange membrane (AEM) has not been elucidated. Therefore, this work studies AEMFC carbonation using numerous high-functioning AEMs from the literature and it was found that the ionic conductivity of the AEM plays the most critical role in the CO2-related voltage loss from carbonation, with the degree of AEM crystallinity playing a minor role. In short, higher conductivity—resulting either from a reduction in the membrane thickness or a change in the polymer chemistry—results in faster CO2 migration and emission from the anode side. Although this does lead to a lower overall degree of carbonation in the polymer, it also increases CO2-related voltage loss. Additionally, an operando neutron imaging cell is used to show that as AEMFCs become increasingly carbonated their water content is reduced, which further drives down cell performance. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Anion Exchange Membrane Fuel Cells and Electrolyzers)
Show Figures

Figure 1

Article
Ultrafiltration Fractionation of Bovine Hemoglobin Hydrolysates: Prediction of Separation Performances for Optimal Enrichment in Antimicrobial Peptide
Membranes 2021, 11(2), 73; https://doi.org/10.3390/membranes11020073 - 20 Jan 2021
Cited by 1
Abstract
Hydrolysis of bovine hemoglobin (bHb), the main constituent of bovine cruor by-product, releases a natural antimicrobial peptide (NKT) which could present a major interest for food safety. To enrich this, tangential ultrafiltration can be implemented, but ultrafiltration conditions are mainly empirically established. In [...] Read more.
Hydrolysis of bovine hemoglobin (bHb), the main constituent of bovine cruor by-product, releases a natural antimicrobial peptide (NKT) which could present a major interest for food safety. To enrich this, tangential ultrafiltration can be implemented, but ultrafiltration conditions are mainly empirically established. In this context, the application of a simulation method for predicting the NKT yield and enrichment was investigated. Ultrafiltration performances were studied for decolored bHb hydrolysates at different degrees of hydrolysis (DH; 3%, 5%, 10% and 18%) and colored hydrolysates (3% and 5% DH) with 1 and 3 kg·mol−1 regenerated cellulose membranes. The simulation method helped to identify the most promising hydrolysate (in terms of NKT enrichment, yield and productivity) as the 3% DH colored hydrolysate, and UF conditions (volumetric reduction factor of 5 and 3 with 1 and 3 kg·mol−1 membrane, respectively) for higher antimicrobial recovery. A maximal enrichment factor of about 29 and NKT purity of 70% in permeate were observed. The results showed that the antimicrobial activity was in relation with the process selectivity and NKT purity. Finally, this reliable method, applied for predicting the ultrafiltration performances to enrich peptides of interest, is part of a global approach to rationally valorize protein resources from various by-products. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Membrane Technologies for Sustainable Biofood Production Lines)
Show Figures

Graphical abstract

Article
Measuring Biofouling Potential in SWRO Plants with a Flow-Cytometry-Based Bacterial Growth Potential Method
Membranes 2021, 11(2), 76; https://doi.org/10.3390/membranes11020076 - 20 Jan 2021
Cited by 3
Abstract
Measuring the bacterial growth potential of seawater reverse osmosis (SWRO) feed water is an issue that is receiving growing attention. This study developed and demonstrated the applicability of the flow-cytometry (FCM)-based bacterial growth potential (BGP) method to assess the biofouling potential in SWRO [...] Read more.
Measuring the bacterial growth potential of seawater reverse osmosis (SWRO) feed water is an issue that is receiving growing attention. This study developed and demonstrated the applicability of the flow-cytometry (FCM)-based bacterial growth potential (BGP) method to assess the biofouling potential in SWRO systems using natural microbial consortium. This method is relatively fast (2–3 days) compared to conventional bioassays. The effect of the potential introduction of nutrients during measurement has been studied thoroughly to achieve the lowest measure value of about 45,000 cells/mL, which is equivalent to about (10 µg-C glucose/L). The BGP method was applied in two full-scale SWRO plants that included (i) dissolved air flotation (DAF) and ultra-filtration (UF); (ii) dual-media filtration (DMF) and cartridge filter (CF), which were compared with the cleaning frequency of the plants. A significant reduction (54%) in BGP was observed through DAF–UF as pre-treatment (with 0.5 mg Fe3+/L), while there was a 40% reduction by DMF–CF (with 0.8 mg Fe3+/L). In terms of the absolute number, the SWRO feed water after DAF–UF supports 1.5 × 106 cells/mL, which is 1.25 times higher than after DMF–CF. This corresponds to the higher cleaning-in-place (CIP) frequency of SWRO with DAF–UF compared to DMF–CF as pre-treatment, indicating that the BGP method has an added value in monitoring the biofouling potential in SWRO systems. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Seawater Reverse Osmosis Desalination)
Show Figures

Figure 1

Article
Graphene Oxide-Based Membranes for Water Purification Applications: Effect of Plasma Treatment on the Adhesion and Stability of the Synthesized Membranes
Membranes 2020, 10(10), 292; https://doi.org/10.3390/membranes10100292 - 17 Oct 2020
Cited by 6
Abstract
The adhesion enhancement of graphene oxide (GO) and reduced graphene oxide (rGO) layer in the underlying polyethersulfone (PES) microfiltration membrane is a crucial step towards developing a high-performance membrane for water purification applications. In the present study, we modified the surface of a [...] Read more.
The adhesion enhancement of graphene oxide (GO) and reduced graphene oxide (rGO) layer in the underlying polyethersulfone (PES) microfiltration membrane is a crucial step towards developing a high-performance membrane for water purification applications. In the present study, we modified the surface of a PES microfiltration membrane with plasma treatment (PT) carried out at different times (2, 10, and 20 min). We studied the effect of PT on the adhesion, stability, and performance of the synthesized GO/rGO-PES membranes. The membranes’ surface morphology and chemistry were characterized using atomic force microscopy, field emission scanning electron microscopy, and Fourier transform infrared spectroscopy. The membrane performance was evaluated by conducting a diffusion test for potassium chloride (KCl) ions through the synthesized membranes. The results revealed that the 2 min PT enhanced the adhesion and stability of the deposited GO/rGO layer when compared to the other plasma-treated membranes. This was associated with an increase in the KCl ion rejection from ~27% to 57%. Surface morphology analysis at a high magnification was performed for the synthesized membranes before and after the diffusion test. Although the membrane’s rejection was improved, the analysis revealed that the GO layers suffered from micro/nano cracks, which negatively affected the membrane’s overall performance. The use of the rGO layer, however, helped in minimizing the GO cracks and enhanced the KCl ion rejection to approximately 94%. Upon increasing the number of rGO deposition cycles from three to five, the performance of the developed rGO-PES membrane was further improved, as confirmed by the increase in its ion rejection to ~99%. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Advances in Nanocomposite Membranes)
Show Figures

Figure 1

Article
Modelling and Optimisation of Multi-Stage Flash Distillation and Reverse Osmosis for Desalination of Saline Process Wastewater Sources
Membranes 2020, 10(10), 265; https://doi.org/10.3390/membranes10100265 - 28 Sep 2020
Cited by 6
Abstract
Nowadays, there is increasing interest in advanced simulation methods for desalination. The two most common desalination methods are multi-stage flash distillation (MSF) and reverse osmosis (RO). Numerous research works have been published on these separations, however their simulation appears to be difficult due [...] Read more.
Nowadays, there is increasing interest in advanced simulation methods for desalination. The two most common desalination methods are multi-stage flash distillation (MSF) and reverse osmosis (RO). Numerous research works have been published on these separations, however their simulation appears to be difficult due to their complexity, therefore continuous improvement is required. The RO, in particular, is difficult to model, because the liquids to be separated also depend specifically on the membrane material. The aim of this study is to model steady-state desalination opportunities of saline process wastewater in flowsheet environment. Commercial flowsheet simulator programs were investigated: ChemCAD for thermal desalination and WAVE program for membrane separation. The calculation of the developed MSF model was verified based on industrial data. It can be stated that both simulators are capable of reducing saline content from 4.5 V/V% to 0.05 V/V%. The simulation results are in accordance with the expectations: MSF has higher yield, but reverse osmosis is simpler process with lower energy demand. The main additional value of the research lies in the comparison of desalination modelling in widely commercially available computer programs. Furthermore, complex functions are established between the optimized operating parameters of multi-stage flash distillation allowing to review trends in flash steps for complete desalination plants. Full article
Show Figures

Graphical abstract

Article
Bovine Hemoglobin Enzymatic Hydrolysis by a New Ecoefficient Process—Part I: Feasibility of Electrodialysis with Bipolar Membrane and Production of Neokyotorphin (α137-141)
Membranes 2020, 10(10), 257; https://doi.org/10.3390/membranes10100257 - 25 Sep 2020
Cited by 3
Abstract
Neokyotorphin (α137-141) is recognized as an antimicrobial peptide and a natural meat preservative. It is produced by conventional enzymatic hydrolysis of bovine hemoglobin, a major component of cruor, a by-product of slaughterhouses. However, during conventional hydrolysis, chemical agents are necessary to adjust and [...] Read more.
Neokyotorphin (α137-141) is recognized as an antimicrobial peptide and a natural meat preservative. It is produced by conventional enzymatic hydrolysis of bovine hemoglobin, a major component of cruor, a by-product of slaughterhouses. However, during conventional hydrolysis, chemical agents are necessary to adjust and regulate the pH of the protein solution and the mineral salt content of the final hydrolysate is consequently high. To produce this peptide of interest without chemical agents and with a low salt concentration, electrodialysis with bipolar membrane (EDBM), an electromembrane process recognized as a green process, with two different membrane configurations (cationic (MCP) and anionic (AEM) membranes) was investigated. Hydrolysis in EDBM showed the same enzymatic mechanism, “Zipper”, and allowed the generation of α137-141 in the same concentration as observed in conventional hydrolysis (control). EDBM-MCP allowed the production of hydrolysates containing a low concentration of mineral salts but with fouling formation on MCP, while EDBM-AEM allowed the production of hydrolysates without fouling but with a similar salt concentration than the control. To the best of our knowledge, this was the first time that EDBM was demonstrated as a feasible and innovative technology to produce peptide hydrolysates from enzymatic hydrolysis. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Membrane Technologies for Sustainable Biofood Production Lines)
Show Figures

Graphical abstract

Article
Electrical, Dielectric Property and Electrochemical Performances of Plasticized Silver Ion-Conducting Chitosan-Based Polymer Nanocomposites
Membranes 2020, 10(7), 151; https://doi.org/10.3390/membranes10070151 - 13 Jul 2020
Cited by 20
Abstract
In the present work, chitosan (CS) as a natural biopolymer was used to prepare nanocomposite polymer electrolytes (NCPEs) in order to reduce plastic waste pollution. The plasticized CS-based NCSPE has been prepared via the solution casting technique. The electrical properties of the films [...] Read more.
In the present work, chitosan (CS) as a natural biopolymer was used to prepare nanocomposite polymer electrolytes (NCPEs) in order to reduce plastic waste pollution. The plasticized CS-based NCSPE has been prepared via the solution casting technique. The electrical properties of the films were investigated using AC conductivity, dielectric properties, electric modulus, and electrical impedance spectroscopy (EIS). The obtained results from the dielectric properties and electric modulus study confirm the non-Debye behavior of ion dynamics. The effect of glycerol plasticizer on ionic conductivity of the CS:AgNO3:Al2O3 system was investigated via AC conductivity and impedance studies. The conductivity of the samples was explained based on electrical equivalent circuits and Bode plots. The electrochemical properties such as transfer number measurement (TNM), linear sweep voltammetry (LSV), and cyclic voltammetry (CV) were carried out to inspect the sample suitability for electrochemical double-layer capacitor (EDLC) application. The highest conductivity was 3.7 × 10−4 S cm−1 with the electrochemical stability window up to 2.1 V at room temperature. Through the TNM study, the ionic conductivity of plasticized CS-based NCSPE was confirmed, and ion transport (tion) of the highest conducting sample was found to be 0.985. The activated carbon electrode with the highest conducting sample was employed in the EDLC device fabrication. Accordingly, it can be said that the highest conducting sample had capable performance to be applied in electrochemical device application. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Polymeric Membrane)
Show Figures

Graphical abstract

Article
Metal Complex as a Novel Approach to Enhance the Amorphous Phase and Improve the EDLC Performance of Plasticized Proton Conducting Chitosan-Based Polymer Electrolyte
Membranes 2020, 10(6), 132; https://doi.org/10.3390/membranes10060132 - 25 Jun 2020
Cited by 29
Abstract
This work indicates that glycerolized chitosan-NH4F polymer electrolytes incorporated with zinc metal complexes are crucial for EDLC application. The ionic conductivity of the plasticized system was improved drastically from 9.52 × 10−4 S/cm to 1.71 × 10−3 S/cm with [...] Read more.
This work indicates that glycerolized chitosan-NH4F polymer electrolytes incorporated with zinc metal complexes are crucial for EDLC application. The ionic conductivity of the plasticized system was improved drastically from 9.52 × 10−4 S/cm to 1.71 × 10−3 S/cm with the addition of a zinc metal complex. The XRD results demonstrated that the amorphous phase was enhanced for the system containing the zinc metal complex. The transference number of ions (tion) and electrons (te) were measured for two of the highest conducting electrolyte systems. It confirmed that the ions were the dominant charge carriers in both systems as tion values for CSNHG4 and CSNHG5 electrolytes were 0.976 and 0.966, respectively. From the examination of LSV, zinc improved the electrolyte electrochemical stability to 2.25 V. The achieved specific capacitance from the CV plot reveals the role of the metal complex on storage properties. The charge–discharge profile was obtained for the system incorporated with the metal complex. The obtained specific capacitance ranged from 69.7 to 77.6 F/g. The energy and power densities became stable from 7.8 to 8.5 Wh/kg and 1041.7 to 248.2 W/kg, respectively, as the EDLC finalized the cycles. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Polymeric Membrane)
Show Figures

Graphical abstract

Article
Diffusion Dialysis for Separation of Hydrochloric Acid, Iron and Zinc Ions from Highly Concentrated Pickling Solutions
Membranes 2020, 10(6), 129; https://doi.org/10.3390/membranes10060129 - 24 Jun 2020
Cited by 10
Abstract
Acid recovery from pickling waste solutions is an important step to enhance hot-dip-galvanizing industry process sustainability. Diffusion dialysis (DD) can be used to separate acids and heavy metals (e.g., iron and zinc) from pickling waters, promoting the circular use of such raw materials. [...] Read more.
Acid recovery from pickling waste solutions is an important step to enhance hot-dip-galvanizing industry process sustainability. Diffusion dialysis (DD) can be used to separate acids and heavy metals (e.g., iron and zinc) from pickling waters, promoting the circular use of such raw materials. In the present study, a laboratory scale unit operating in batch and a continuous large scale unit, both equipped with Fumasep anionic exchange membranes, were tested. Results obtained show that zinc and iron concentration affect the HCl recovery in opposite ways. Iron chlorides enhance acid recovery, while zinc chlorides considerably tend to diffuse through the membrane because of negatively charged chloro-complexes formation and slightly reduce the acid diffusion. A multi-components mathematical model, with a time-dependent and distributed-parameters architecture, was adopted enabling the prediction of operations with hydrochloric acid, zinc, and iron metals both in batch and in continuous dialyzers. As a result, a good comparison between model simulations and experiments was achieved in both configurations. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Membrane Technologies for Resource Recovery)
Show Figures

Graphical abstract

Article
Development of Hydrophilic PVDF Membrane Using Vapour Induced Phase Separation Method for Produced Water Treatment
Membranes 2020, 10(6), 121; https://doi.org/10.3390/membranes10060121 - 16 Jun 2020
Cited by 18
Abstract
During the production of oil and gas, a large amount of oily wastewater is generated, which would pollute the environment if discharged without proper treatment. As one of the most promising treatment options, membrane material used for oily wastewater treatment should possess desirable [...] Read more.
During the production of oil and gas, a large amount of oily wastewater is generated, which would pollute the environment if discharged without proper treatment. As one of the most promising treatment options, membrane material used for oily wastewater treatment should possess desirable properties of high hydraulic performance combined with high membrane fouling resistance. This project employs the vapor induced phase separation (VIPS) technique to develop a hydrophilic polyvinylidene fluoride (PVDF) membrane with polyethylene glycol (PEG) as an additive for produced water treatment. Results show that thanks to its slow nonsolvent intake, the VIPS method hinders additive leaching during the cast film immersion. The results also reveal that the exposure of the film to the open air before immersion greatly influences the structure of the developed membranes. By extending the exposure time from 0 to 30 min, the membrane morphology change from typical asymmetric with large macrovoids to the macrovoid-free porous symmetric membrane with a granular structure, which corresponds to 35% increment of steady-state permeability to 189 L·m−2h−1bar−1, while maintaining >90% of oil rejection. It was also found that more PEG content resides in the membrane matrix when the exposure time is extended, contributes to the elevation of surface hydrophilicity, which improves the membrane antifouling properties. Overall results demonstrate the potential of VIPS method for the fabrication of hydrophilic PVDF membrane by helping to preserve hydrophilic additive in the membrane matrices. Full article
Show Figures

Graphical abstract

Article
Electrochemical Characteristics of Glycerolized PEO-Based Polymer Electrolytes
Membranes 2020, 10(6), 116; https://doi.org/10.3390/membranes10060116 - 05 Jun 2020
Cited by 18
Abstract
In this article, poly(ethylene oxide)-based polymer electrolyte films doped with ammonium iodide (NH4I) and plasticized with glycerol were provided by a solution casting method. In the unplasticized system, the maximum ionic conductivity of 3.96 × 10 5   S cm−1 was achieved by the electrolyte comprised of 70 wt. % PEO:30 wt. % NH4I. The conductivity was further enhanced up to   ( 1.77 × 10 4 S cm−1) for the plasticized system when 10 wt. % glycerol was added to the highest conducting unplasticized one at ambient temperature. The films were characterized by various techniques to evaluate their electrochemical performance. The results of impedance spectroscopy revealed that bulk resistance (Rb) considerably decreased for the highest plasticized polymer electrolyte. The dielectric properties and electric modulus parameters were studied in detail. The LSV analysis verified that the plasticized system can be used in energy storage devices with electrochemical stability up to 1.09 V and the TNM data elucidated that the ions were the main charge carrier. The values of the ion transference number (tion) and electron transfer number (tel) were calculated. The nonappearance of any redox peaks in the cyclic voltammograms indicated that the chemical reaction had not occurred at the electrode/electrolyte interface. Full article
Show Figures

Graphical abstract

Article
Oily Wastewater Treatment Using Polyamide Thin Film Composite Membrane Technology
Membranes 2020, 10(5), 84; https://doi.org/10.3390/membranes10050084 - 28 Apr 2020
Cited by 10
Abstract
In this study, polyamide (PA) thin film composite (TFC) reverse osmosis (RO) membrane filtration was used in edible oil wastewater emulsion treatment. The PA-TFC membrane was characterized using mechanical, thermal, chemical, and physical tests. Surface morphology and cross-sections of TFCs were characterized using [...] Read more.
In this study, polyamide (PA) thin film composite (TFC) reverse osmosis (RO) membrane filtration was used in edible oil wastewater emulsion treatment. The PA-TFC membrane was characterized using mechanical, thermal, chemical, and physical tests. Surface morphology and cross-sections of TFCs were characterized using SEM. The effects of edible oil concentrations, average droplets size, and contact angle on separation efficiency and flux were studied in detail. Purification performance was enhanced using activated carbon as a pre-treatment unit. The performance of the RO unit was assessed by chemical oxygen demand (COD) removal and permeate flux. Oil concentration in wastewater varied between 3000 mg/L and 6000 mg/L. Oily wastewater showed a higher contact angle (62.9°) than de-ionized water (33°). Experimental results showed that the presence of activated carbon increases the permeation COD removal from 94% to 99%. The RO membrane filtration coupled with an activated carbon unit of oily wastewater is a convenient hybrid technique for removal of high-concentration edible oil wastewater emulsion up to 99%. Using activated carbon as an adsorption pre-treatment unit improved the permeate flux from 34 L/m2hr to 75 L/m2hr. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Membranes: 10th Anniversary)
Show Figures

Graphical abstract

Article
Polyimide/Ionic Liquid Composite Membranes for Middle and High Temperature Fuel Cell Application: Water Sorption Behavior and Proton Conductivity
Membranes 2020, 10(5), 82; https://doi.org/10.3390/membranes10050082 - 28 Apr 2020
Cited by 6
Abstract
Four water insoluble room-temperature protic ionic liquids (PILs) based on the N-alkylimidazolium cation with the alkyl chain length from 1 to 4 and bis(trifluoromethylsulfonyl)imide anion were synthesized and their chemical structure was confirmed by the 1H NMR and 19F NMR [...] Read more.
Four water insoluble room-temperature protic ionic liquids (PILs) based on the N-alkylimidazolium cation with the alkyl chain length from 1 to 4 and bis(trifluoromethylsulfonyl)imide anion were synthesized and their chemical structure was confirmed by the 1H NMR and 19F NMR analysis. PILs were revealed to be thermally stable up to 360 and 400 °C. At the same time, the proton conductivity of PILs was found to be dependent mostly on the temperature and, to a less extent, on the type of the cation, i.e., the increase of the conductivity from ~3 × 10−4 S/cm at 25 °C to 2 × 10−2 S/cm at 150 °C was observed. The water vapour sorption capacity of PILs was evaluated as a function of relative humidity and the influence of the alkyl chain length on the phase behaviour in the PIL-water system was discussed. The composite polyimide/PILs membranes were prepared by the PIL immobilization in the porous polymer (Matrimid® 5218) film. The composite membranes showed a high level of proton conductivity (~10−3 S/cm) at elevated temperatures (up to 160 °C). The obtained results reveal that the elaborated composite polyimide/PIL membranes are promising candidates for the application as proton exchange membrane at middle and high temperatures. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Membranes: 10th Anniversary)
Show Figures

Graphical abstract

Article
Experimental Investigation of the Effect of Implanting TiO2-NPs on PVC for Long-Term UF Membrane Performance to Treat Refinery Wastewater
Membranes 2020, 10(4), 77; https://doi.org/10.3390/membranes10040077 - 21 Apr 2020
Cited by 10
Abstract
This study investigated the impact of implanting TiO2-NPs within a membrane to minimize the influence of long-term operation on the membrane characteristics. Four poly vinyle chloride-titanium oxide (PVC-TiO2-NPs) membranes were prepared to create an ultrafiltration membrane (UF) that would [...] Read more.
This study investigated the impact of implanting TiO2-NPs within a membrane to minimize the influence of long-term operation on the membrane characteristics. Four poly vinyle chloride-titanium oxide (PVC-TiO2-NPs) membranes were prepared to create an ultrafiltration membrane (UF) that would effectively treat actual refinery wastewater. The hypothesis of this work was that TiO2-NPs would function as a hydrophilic modification of the PVC membrane and excellent self-cleaning material, which in turn would greatly extend the membrane’s lifetime. The membranes were characterized via Fourier transforms infrared spectroscopy (FTIR), X-ray diffraction (XRD), energy dispersive X-ray (EDX), atomic force microscope (AFM), and scanning electron microscope (SEM). The removal efficiency of turbidity, total suspended solid (TSS), oil and grease, heavy metals and chemical oxygen demand (COD) were investigated. Contact angle (CA) reduced by 12.7% and 27.5% on the top and bottom surfaces, respectively. The PVC membrane with TiO2-NPs had larger mean pore size on its surface and more holes with larger size inside the membrane structure. The addition of TiO2-NPs could remarkably enhance the antifouling property of the PVC membrane. The pure water permeability (PWP) of the membrane was enhanced by 95.3% with an increase of TiO2 to 1.5 gm/100gm. The PWP after backwashing was reduced from 22.3% for PVC to 10.1% with 1.5 gm TiO2-NPs. The long-term performance was improved from five days for PVC to 23 d with an increase in TiO2-NPs to 1.5 gm. The improvements of PVC-TiO2-NPs long-term were related to the enhancement of the hydrophilic character of the membrane and increase tensile strength due to the reinforcement effect of TiO2-NPs. These results clearly identify the impact of the TiO2-NPs content on the long-term PVC/TiO2-NPs performance and confirm our hypothesis that it is possible to use TiO2-NPs to effectively enhance the lifetime of membranes during their long-term operation. Full article
Show Figures

Graphical abstract

Article
Enhanced O2/N2 Separation of Mixed-Matrix Membrane Filled with Pluronic-Compatibilized Cobalt Phthalocyanine Particles
Membranes 2020, 10(4), 75; https://doi.org/10.3390/membranes10040075 - 18 Apr 2020
Cited by 7
Abstract
Membrane-based air separation (O2/N2) is of great importance owing to its energy efficiency as compared to conventional processes. Currently, dense polymeric membranes serve as the main pillar of industrial processes used for the generation of O2- and [...] Read more.
Membrane-based air separation (O2/N2) is of great importance owing to its energy efficiency as compared to conventional processes. Currently, dense polymeric membranes serve as the main pillar of industrial processes used for the generation of O2- and N2-enriched gas. However, conventional polymeric membranes often fail to meet the selectivity needs owing to the similarity in the effective diameters of O2 and N2 gases. Meanwhile, mixed-matrix membranes (MMMs) are convenient to produce high-performance membranes while keeping the advantages of polymeric materials. Here, we propose a novel MMM for O2/N2 separation, which is composed of Matrimid® 5218 (Matrimid) as the matrix, cobalt(II) phthalocyanine microparticles (CoPCMPs) as the filler, and Pluronic® F-127 (Pluronic) as the compatibilizer. By the incorporation of CoPCMPs to Matrimid, without Pluronic, interfacial defects were formed. Pluronic-treated CoPCMPs, on the other hand, enhanced O2 permeability and O2/N2 selectivity by 64% and 34%, respectively. We explain the enhancement achieved with the increase of both O2 diffusivity and O2/N2 solubility selectivity. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Membranes for Gas Separation)
Show Figures

Graphical abstract

Article
Leveraging Nanocrystal HKUST-1 in Mixed-Matrix Membranes for Ethylene/Ethane Separation
Membranes 2020, 10(4), 74; https://doi.org/10.3390/membranes10040074 - 16 Apr 2020
Cited by 10
Abstract
The energy-intensive ethylene/ethane separation process is a key challenge to the petrochemical industry. HKUST-1, a metal–organic framework (MOF) which possesses high accessible surface area and porosity, is utilized in mixed-matrix membrane fabrication to investigate its potential for improving the performance for C2 [...] Read more.
The energy-intensive ethylene/ethane separation process is a key challenge to the petrochemical industry. HKUST-1, a metal–organic framework (MOF) which possesses high accessible surface area and porosity, is utilized in mixed-matrix membrane fabrication to investigate its potential for improving the performance for C2H4/C2H6 separation. Prior to membrane fabrication and gas permeation analysis, nanocrystal HKUST-1 was first synthesized. This step is critical in order to ensure that defect-free mixed-matrix membranes can be formed. Then, polyimide-based polymers, ODPA-TMPDA and 6FDA-TMPDA, were chosen as the matrices. Our findings revealed that 20 wt% loading of HKUST-1 was capable of improving C2H4 permeability (155% for ODPA-TMPDA and 69% for 6FDA-TMPDA) without excessively sacrificing the C2H4/C2H6 selectivity. The C2H4 and C2H6 diffusivity, as well as solubility, were also improved substantially as compared to the pure polymeric membranes. Overall, our results edge near the upper bound, confirming the effectiveness of leveraging nanocrystal HKUST-1 filler for performance enhancements in mixed-matrix membranes for C2H4/C2H6 separation. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Membranes for Gas Separation)
Show Figures

Graphical abstract

Article
Structural, Morphological, Electrical and Electrochemical Properties of PVA: CS-Based Proton-Conducting Polymer Blend Electrolytes
Membranes 2020, 10(4), 71; https://doi.org/10.3390/membranes10040071 - 15 Apr 2020
Cited by 27
Abstract
Polymer blend electrolytes based on poly(vinyl alcohol):chitosan (PVA:CS) incorporated with various quantities of ammonium iodide were prepared and characterized using a range of electrochemical, structural and microscopic techniques. In the structural analysis, X-ray diffraction (XRD) was used to confirm the buildup of the [...] Read more.
Polymer blend electrolytes based on poly(vinyl alcohol):chitosan (PVA:CS) incorporated with various quantities of ammonium iodide were prepared and characterized using a range of electrochemical, structural and microscopic techniques. In the structural analysis, X-ray diffraction (XRD) was used to confirm the buildup of the amorphous phase. To reveal the effect of dopant addition on structural changes, field-emission scanning electron microscope (FESEM) was used. The protrusions of salt aggregates with large quantity were seen at the surface of the formed films at 50 wt.% of the added salt. The nature of the relationship between conductivity and dielectric properties was shown using electrochemical impedance spectroscopy (EIS). The EIS spectra were fitted with electrical equivalent circuits (EECs). It was observed that both dielectric constant and dielectric loss were high in the low-frequency region. For all samples, loss tangent and electric modulus plots were analyzed to become familiar with the relaxation behavior. Linear sweep voltammetry (LSV) and transference number measurement (TNM) were recorded. A relatively high cut-off potential for the polymer electrolyte was obtained at 1.33 V and both values of the transference number for ion (tion) and electronic (telec) showed the ion dominant as charge carrier species. The TNM and LSV measurements indicate the suitability of the samples for energy storage application if their conductivity can be more enhanced. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Ionic Conductive Membranes for Fuel Cells)
Show Figures

Graphical abstract

Article
Treatment of Cyanide-Free Wastewater from Brass Electrodeposition with EDTA by Electrodialysis: Evaluation of Underlimiting and Overlimiting Operations
Membranes 2020, 10(4), 69; https://doi.org/10.3390/membranes10040069 - 11 Apr 2020
Cited by 10
Abstract
Growing environmental concerns have led to the development of cleaner processes, such as the substitution of cyanide in electroplating industries and changes in the treatment of wastewaters. Hence, we evaluated the treatment of cyanide-free wastewater from the brass electroplating industry with EDTA as [...] Read more.
Growing environmental concerns have led to the development of cleaner processes, such as the substitution of cyanide in electroplating industries and changes in the treatment of wastewaters. Hence, we evaluated the treatment of cyanide-free wastewater from the brass electroplating industry with EDTA as a complexing agent by electrodialysis, aimed at recovering water and concentrated solutions for reuse. The electrodialysis tests were performed in underlimiting and overlimiting conditions. The results suggested that intense water dissociation occurred at the cathodic side of the commercial anion-exchange membrane (HDX) during the overlimiting test. Consequently, the pH reduction at this membrane may have led to the reaction of protons with complexes of EDTA-metals and insoluble species. This allowed the migration of free Cu2+ and Zn2+ to the cation-exchange membrane as a result of the intense electric field and electroconvection. These overlimiting phenomena accounted for the improvement of the percent extraction and percent concentration, since in the electrodialysis stack employed herein, the concentrate compartments of cationic and anionic species were connected to the same reservoir. Chronopotentiometric studies showed that electroconvective vortices minimized fouling/scaling at both membranes. The electrodialysis in the overlimiting condition seemed to be more advantageous due to water dissociation and electroconvection. Full article
Show Figures

Graphical abstract

Article
Synthesis and Performance of Aromatic Polyamide Ionenes as Gas Separation Membranes
Membranes 2020, 10(3), 51; https://doi.org/10.3390/membranes10030051 - 22 Mar 2020
Cited by 9
Abstract
Here, we report the synthesis and thermophysical properties of seven primarily aromatic, imidazolium-based polyamide ionenes. The effects of varied para-, meta-, and ortho-connectivity, and spacing of ionic and amide functional groups, on structural and thermophysical properties were analyzed. Suitable, robust [...] Read more.
Here, we report the synthesis and thermophysical properties of seven primarily aromatic, imidazolium-based polyamide ionenes. The effects of varied para-, meta-, and ortho-connectivity, and spacing of ionic and amide functional groups, on structural and thermophysical properties were analyzed. Suitable, robust derivatives were cast into thin films, neat, or with stoichiometric equivalents of the ionic liquid (IL) 1-benzy-3-methylimidazolium bistriflimide ([Bnmim][Tf2N]), and the gas transport properties of these membranes were measured. Pure gas permeabilities and permselectivities for N2, CH4, and CO2 are reported. Consistent para-connectivity in the backbone was shown to yield the highest CO2 permeability and suitability for casting as a very thin, flexible film. Derivatives containing terephthalamide segments exhibited the highest CO2/CH4 and CO2/N2 selectivities, yet CO2 permeability decreased with further deviation from consistent para-linkages. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Ionic Liquid-based Materials for Membrane Processes)
Show Figures

Graphical abstract

Article
Potentiodynamic and Galvanodynamic Regimes of Mass Transfer in Flow-Through Electrodialysis Membrane Systems: Numerical Simulation of Electroconvection and Current-Voltage Curve
Membranes 2020, 10(3), 49; https://doi.org/10.3390/membranes10030049 - 20 Mar 2020
Cited by 5
Abstract
Electromembrane devices are usually operated in two electrical regimes: potentiodynamic (PD), when a potential drop in the system is set, and galvanodynamic (GD), when the current density is set. This article theoretically investigates the current-voltage curves (CVCs) of flow-through electrodialysis membrane systems calculated [...] Read more.
Electromembrane devices are usually operated in two electrical regimes: potentiodynamic (PD), when a potential drop in the system is set, and galvanodynamic (GD), when the current density is set. This article theoretically investigates the current-voltage curves (CVCs) of flow-through electrodialysis membrane systems calculated in the PD and GD regimes and compares the parameters of the electroconvective vortex layer for these regimes. The study is based on numerical modelling using a basic model of overlimiting transfer enhanced by electroconvection with a modification of the boundary conditions. The Dankwerts’ boundary condition is used for the ion concentration at the inlet boundary of the membrane channel. The Dankwerts’ condition allows one to increase the accuracy of the numerical implementation of the boundary condition at the channel inlet. On the CVCs calculated for PD and DG regimes, four main current modes can be distinguished: underlimiting, limiting, overlimiting, and chaotic overlimiting. The effect of the electric field regime is manifested in overlimiting current modes, when a significant electroconvection vortex layer develops in the channel. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Electromembrane Processes: Experiments and Modelling)
Show Figures

Graphical abstract

Article
Removal of Dye from a Leather Tanning Factory by Flat-Sheet Blend Ultrafiltration (UF) Membrane
Membranes 2020, 10(3), 47; https://doi.org/10.3390/membranes10030047 - 18 Mar 2020
Cited by 9
Abstract
In this work, a flat-sheet blend membrane was fabricated by a traditional phase inversion method, using the polymer blends poly phenyl sulfone (PPSU) and polyether sulfone (PES) for the ultrafiltration (UF) application. It was hypothesized that adding PES to the PPSU polymer blend [...] Read more.
In this work, a flat-sheet blend membrane was fabricated by a traditional phase inversion method, using the polymer blends poly phenyl sulfone (PPSU) and polyether sulfone (PES) for the ultrafiltration (UF) application. It was hypothesized that adding PES to the PPSU polymer blend would improve the properties of the PPSU membrane. The effect of the PES concentration on the blend membrane properties was investigated extensively. The characteristics of PPSU-PES blend membranes were investigated using atomic force microscopy (AFM), scanning electron microscopy (SEM), contact angle measure, and contaminant (dye) elimination efficiency. This study showed that PES clearly affected the structural formation of the blended membranes. A considerable increase in the average roughness (about 93%) was observed with the addition of 4% PES, with a higher mean pore size accompanied by a rise in the pores’ density on the surface of the membrane. The addition of up to 4% PES had a significant influence on the hydrophilic character of the PPSU-PES membrane, by lowering the value of the contact angle (CA) (i.e., to 56.9°). The performance of the PPSU-PES composite membranes’ UF performance was systematically investigated, and the membrane pure water permeability (PWP) was enhanced by 25% with the addition of 4% PES. The best separation removal factor achieved in the current investigation for dye (Drupel Black NT) was 96.62% for a PPSU-PES (16:4 wt./wt.%) membrane with a 50% feed dye concentration. Full article
Show Figures

Graphical abstract

Article
Innovative Poly (Vinylidene Fluoride) (PVDF) Electrospun Nanofiber Membrane Preparation Using DMSO as a Low Toxicity Solvent
Membranes 2020, 10(3), 36; https://doi.org/10.3390/membranes10030036 - 26 Feb 2020
Cited by 11
Abstract
Electrospinning is an emerging technique for the preparation of electrospun fiber membranes (ENMs), and a very promising one on the basis of the high-yield and the scalability of the process according to a process intensification strategy. Most of the research reported in the [...] Read more.
Electrospinning is an emerging technique for the preparation of electrospun fiber membranes (ENMs), and a very promising one on the basis of the high-yield and the scalability of the process according to a process intensification strategy. Most of the research reported in the literature has been focused on the preparation of poly (vinylidene fluoride) (PVDF) ENMs by using N,N- dimethylformamide (DMF) as a solvent, which is considered a mutagenic and cancerogenic substance. Hence, the possibility of using alternative solvents represents an interesting approach to investigate. In this work, we explored the use of dimethyl sulfoxide (DMSO) as a low toxicity solvent in a mixture with acetone for the preparation of PVDF-ENMs. As a first step, a solubility study of the polymer, PVDF 6012 Solef®, in several DMSO/acetone mixtures was carried out, and then, different operating conditions (e.g., applied voltage and needle to collector plate distance) for the successful electrospinning of the ENMs were evaluated. The study provided evidence of the crucial role of solution conductivity in the electrospinning phase and the thermal post-treatment. The prepared ENMs were characterized by evaluating the morphology (by SEM), pore-size, porosity, surface properties, and performance in terms of water permeability. The obtained results showed the possibility of producing ENMs in a more sustainable way, with a pore size in the range of 0.2–0.8 µm, high porosity (above 80%), and water flux in the range of 11.000–38.000 L/m2·h·bar. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Membrane Processes and Materials for a Sustainable Bioeconomy)
Show Figures

Figure 1

Article
Chemically Crosslinked Sulfonated Polyphenylsulfone (CSPPSU) Membranes for PEM Fuel Cells
Membranes 2020, 10(2), 31; https://doi.org/10.3390/membranes10020031 - 18 Feb 2020
Cited by 9
Abstract
Sulfonated polyphenylsulfone (SPPSU) with a high ion exchange capacity (IEC) was synthesized using commercially available polyphenylsulfone (PPSU), and a large-area (16 × 18 cm2) crosslinked sulfonated polyphenylsulfone (CSPPSU) membrane was prepared. In addition, we developed an activation process in which the [...] Read more.
Sulfonated polyphenylsulfone (SPPSU) with a high ion exchange capacity (IEC) was synthesized using commercially available polyphenylsulfone (PPSU), and a large-area (16 × 18 cm2) crosslinked sulfonated polyphenylsulfone (CSPPSU) membrane was prepared. In addition, we developed an activation process in which the membrane was treated with alkaline and acidic solutions to remove sulfur dioxide (SO2), which forms as a byproduct during heat treatment. CSPPSU membranes obtained using this activation method had high thermal, mechanical and chemical stabilities. In I-ViR free studies for fuel cell evaluation, high performances similar to those using Nafion were obtained. In addition, from the hydrogen (H2) gas crossover characteristics, the durability is much better than that of a Nafion212 membrane. In the studies evaluating the long-term stabilities by using a constant current method, a stability of 4000 h was obtained for the first time. These results indicate that the CSPPSU membrane obtained by using our activation method is promising as a polymer electrolyte membrane. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Ionic Conductive Membranes for Fuel Cells)
Show Figures

Figure 1

Article
Mathematical Modeling of the Effect of Water Splitting on Ion Transfer in the Depleted Diffusion Layer Near an Ion-Exchange Membrane
Membranes 2020, 10(2), 22; https://doi.org/10.3390/membranes10020022 - 31 Jan 2020
Cited by 8
Abstract
Water splitting (WS) and electroconvection (EC) are the main phenomena affecting ion transfer through ion-exchange membranes in intensive current regimes of electrodialysis. While EC enhances ion transport, WS, in most cases, is an undesirable effect reducing current efficiency and causing precipitation of sparingly [...] Read more.
Water splitting (WS) and electroconvection (EC) are the main phenomena affecting ion transfer through ion-exchange membranes in intensive current regimes of electrodialysis. While EC enhances ion transport, WS, in most cases, is an undesirable effect reducing current efficiency and causing precipitation of sparingly soluble compounds. A mathematical description of the transfer of salt ions and H+ (OH) ions generated in WS is presented. The model is based on the Nernst–Planck and Poisson equations; it takes into account deviation from local electroneutrality in the depleted diffusion boundary layer (DBL). The current transported by water ions is given as a parameter. Numerical and semi-analytical solutions are developed. The analytical solution is found by dividing the depleted DBL into three zones: the electroneutral region, the extended space charge region (SCR), and the quasi-equilibrium zone near the membrane surface. There is an excellent agreement between two solutions when calculating the concentration of all four ions, electric field, and potential drop across the depleted DBL. The treatment of experimental partial current–voltage curves shows that under the same current density, the surface space charge density at the anion-exchange membrane is lower than that at the cation-exchange membrane. This explains the negative effect of WS, which partially suppresses EC and reduces salt ion transfer. The restrictions of the analytical solution, namely, the local chemical equilibrium assumption, are discussed. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Membrane-Assisted (Bio)Chemical Process and Technology)
Show Figures

Graphical abstract

Article
Characterization of MK-40 Membrane Modified by Layers of Cation Exchange and Anion Exchange Polyelectrolytes
Membranes 2020, 10(2), 20; https://doi.org/10.3390/membranes10020020 - 27 Jan 2020
Cited by 9
Abstract
Coating of ion exchange membranes used in electrodialysis with layers of polyelectrolytes is a proven approach that allows for the increasing of the limiting current, the suppressing of sedimentation, the controlling of the intensity of generation of H+ and OH ions, [...] Read more.
Coating of ion exchange membranes used in electrodialysis with layers of polyelectrolytes is a proven approach that allows for the increasing of the limiting current, the suppressing of sedimentation, the controlling of the intensity of generation of H+ and OH ions, and also the improving of monovalent selectivity. However, in the case when two materials with the opposite sign of the charge of fixed groups come in contact, a bipolar boundary is created that can cause undesirable changes in the membrane properties. In this work, we used a MK-40 heterogeneous membrane on the surface of which a layer of polyethyleneimine was applied by adsorption from a solution as a model of heterogeneous membranes modified with oppositely charged polyelectrolyte. It was found that, on one hand, the properties of modified membrane were beneficial for electrodialysis, its limiting current did not decrease and the membrane even acquired a barrier to non-selective electrolyte transport. At the same time, the generation of H+ and OH ions of low intensity arose, even in underlimiting current modes. It was also shown that despite the presence of a layer of polyethyleneimine, the surface charge of the modified membrane remained negative, which we associate with low protonation of polyethyleneimine at neutral pH. Full article
(This article belongs to the Section Membrane Analysis and Characterization)
Show Figures

Graphical abstract

Article
Separation and Recycling of Concentrated Heavy Metal Wastewater by Tube Membrane Distillation Integrated with Crystallization
Membranes 2020, 10(1), 19; https://doi.org/10.3390/membranes10010019 - 20 Jan 2020
Cited by 4
Abstract
Tube membrane distillation (MD) integrated with a crystallization method is used in this study for the concurrent productions of pure water and salt crystals from concentrated single and mixed system solutions. The effects of concentrated Zn2+ and Ni2+ on performance in [...] Read more.
Tube membrane distillation (MD) integrated with a crystallization method is used in this study for the concurrent productions of pure water and salt crystals from concentrated single and mixed system solutions. The effects of concentrated Zn2+ and Ni2+ on performance in terms of membrane flux, permeate conductivity, crystal recovery rates, and crystal grades are investigated. Preferred crystallization and co-crystallization determinations were performed for mixed solutions. The results revealed that membrane fluxes remained at 2.61 kg·m−2·h−1 and showed a sharp decline until the saturation increased to 1.38. Water yield conductivity was below 10 μs·cm−1. High concentrated zinc and nickel did not have a particular effect on the rejection of the membrane process. For the mixed solutions, membrane flux showed a sharp decrease due to the high saturation, while the conductivity of permeate remained below 10 μs·cm−1 during the whole process. Co-crystallization has been proven to be a better method due to the existence of the SO42− common-ion effect. Membrane fouling studies have suggested that the membrane has excellent resistance to fouling from highly concentrated solutions. The MD integrated with crystallization proves to be a promising technology for treating highly concentrated heavy metal solutions. Full article
(This article belongs to the Section Membrane Processing and Engineering)
Show Figures

Graphical abstract

Article
Triple-Layer Nanocomposite Membrane Prepared by Electrospinning Based on Modified PES with Carbon Nanotubes for Membrane Distillation Applications
Membranes 2020, 10(1), 15; https://doi.org/10.3390/membranes10010015 - 16 Jan 2020
Cited by 18
Abstract
In this work, a novel triple-layer nanocomposite membrane prepared with polyethersulfone (PES)/carbon nanotubes (CNTs) as the primary bulk material and poly (vinylidene fluoride-co-hexafluoro propylene) (PcH)/CNTs as the outer and inner surfaces of the membrane by using electrospinning method is introduced. Modified PES with [...] Read more.
In this work, a novel triple-layer nanocomposite membrane prepared with polyethersulfone (PES)/carbon nanotubes (CNTs) as the primary bulk material and poly (vinylidene fluoride-co-hexafluoro propylene) (PcH)/CNTs as the outer and inner surfaces of the membrane by using electrospinning method is introduced. Modified PES with CNTs was chosen as the bulk material of the triple-layer membrane to obtain a high porosity membrane. Both the upper and lower surfaces of the triple-layer membrane were coated with PcH/CNTs using electrospinning to get a triple-layer membrane with high total porosity and noticeable surface hydrophobicity. Combining both characteristics, next to an acceptable bulk hydrophobicity, resulted in a compelling membrane for membrane distillation (MD) applications. The prepared membrane was utilized in a direct contact MD system, and its performance was evaluated in different salt solution concentrations, feed velocities and feed solution temperatures. The results of the prepared membrane in this study were compared to those reported in previously published papers. Based on the evaluated membrane performance, the triple-layer nanocomposite membrane can be considered as a potential alternative with reasonable cost, relative to other MD membranes. Full article
(This article belongs to the Section Membrane Processing and Engineering)
Show Figures

Graphical abstract

Article
Systematic Study of the Impact of Pulsed Electric Field Parameters (Pulse/Pause Duration and Frequency) on ED Performances during Acid Whey Treatment
Membranes 2020, 10(1), 14; https://doi.org/10.3390/membranes10010014 - 11 Jan 2020
Cited by 11
Abstract
Processing acid whey is still a challenge for the dairy industry due to its high lactic acid and mineral contents. Their removal processes represent a high investment and running cost in addition to significant production of polluting effluents. A previous study showed that [...] Read more.
Processing acid whey is still a challenge for the dairy industry due to its high lactic acid and mineral contents. Their removal processes represent a high investment and running cost in addition to significant production of polluting effluents. A previous study showed that the use of electrodialysis with the application of pulsed electric fields (PEFs) was sufficiently efficient to produce dryable acid whey with reduced scaling issues during the process. In the present work, eight PEF conditions using different pulse/pause durations and frequencies were tested for 1) process optimization and 2) understanding of the underlying mechanisms involved in PEF process improvements. Best results were obtained for PEF conditions (5 s/5 s) and (15 s/15 s) with almost complete scaling mitigation and minimal energy consumption (5.3 ± 0.4 Wh/g of lactic acid vs. 9.33 ± 1.38 Wh/g for continuous current). Longer pause times also led to better divalent ion demineralization at the expense of sodium elimination induced by stronger affinity with the membrane and longer retention times. For the first time, PEF parameters of relatively low frequencies (<1) were studied in sub-limiting current conditions on a complex solution such as acid whey. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Ion-Exchange Membranes and Processes)
Show Figures

Graphical abstract

Article
A Novel Cellulose-Based Polymer for Efficient Removal of Methylene Blue
Membranes 2020, 10(1), 13; https://doi.org/10.3390/membranes10010013 - 10 Jan 2020
Cited by 6
Abstract
A novel cellulose-based cross-linked polymer, dicarboxymethyl cellulose (DCMC), has been synthesized and used for methylene blue (MB) removal. Inductively coupled plasma atomic emission spectrometry (ICP-AES), Fourier-transform infrared spectroscopy (FTIR), nitrogen porosimetry, and optical microscopy were employed to characterize the structure of the cellulose-based [...] Read more.
A novel cellulose-based cross-linked polymer, dicarboxymethyl cellulose (DCMC), has been synthesized and used for methylene blue (MB) removal. Inductively coupled plasma atomic emission spectrometry (ICP-AES), Fourier-transform infrared spectroscopy (FTIR), nitrogen porosimetry, and optical microscopy were employed to characterize the structure of the cellulose-based adsorbent. The number of carboxylate groups per gram of polymer (CG) was calculated with sodium content determined by ICP-AES. Systematic equilibrium and kinetic adsorption studies were performed to assess the polymer suitability for dye removal. The effect of pH on its adsorption capacity was also studied and the equilibrium adsorption data was analyzed using Langmuir, Freundlich, and Sips isotherms. At pH = 3, the adsorption isotherms followed the Langmuir model with a maximum adsorption capacity of 887.6 mg/g. At pH = 6.4, the adsorption isotherms produced S-shape curves and were best fitted with the Sips model. The maximum MB uptake increased to 1354.6 mg/g. Pseudo first-order and second-order models were used to fit the kinetic data. A pseudo second-order kinetic model provided the best correlation for the adsorption of MB onto DCMC. Adsorption coupled with membrane filtration achieved 95% methylene blue removal and DCMC can be successfully regenerated and reused in consecutive experiments. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Membrane Processes and Materials for a Sustainable Bioeconomy)
Show Figures

Figure 1

Article
Hydrogen Production via Steam Reforming: A Critical Analysis of MR and RMM Technologies
Membranes 2020, 10(1), 10; https://doi.org/10.3390/membranes10010010 - 03 Jan 2020
Cited by 8
Abstract
‘Hydrogen as the energy carrier of the future’ has been a topic discussed for decades and is today the subject of a new revival, especially driven by the investments in renewable electricity and the technological efforts done by high-developed industrial powers, such as [...] Read more.
‘Hydrogen as the energy carrier of the future’ has been a topic discussed for decades and is today the subject of a new revival, especially driven by the investments in renewable electricity and the technological efforts done by high-developed industrial powers, such as Northern Europe and Japan. Although hydrogen production from renewable resources is still limited to small scale, local solutions, and R&D projects; steam reforming (SR) of natural gas at industrial scale is the cheapest and most used technology and generates around 8 kg CO2 per kg H2. This paper is focused on the process optimization and decarbonization of H2 production from fossil fuels to promote more efficient approaches based on membrane separation. In this work, two emerging configurations have been compared from the numerical point of view: the membrane reactor (MR) and the reformer and membrane module (RMM), proposed and tested by this research group. The rate of hydrogen production by SR has been calculated according to other literature works, a one-dimensional model has been developed for mass, heat, and momentum balances. For the membrane modules, the rate of hydrogen permeation has been estimated according to mass transfer correlation previously reported by this research group and based on previous experimental tests carried on in the first RMM Pilot Plant. The methane conversion, carbon dioxide yield, temperature, and pressure profile are compared for each configuration: SR, MR, and RMM. By decoupling the reaction and separation section, such as in the RMM, the overall methane conversion can be increased of about 30% improving the efficiency of the system. Full article
Show Figures

Figure 1

Article
Polysulfone Membranes Embedded with Halloysites Nanotubes: Preparation and Properties
Membranes 2020, 10(1), 2; https://doi.org/10.3390/membranes10010002 - 25 Dec 2019
Cited by 13
Abstract
In the present study, nanocomposite ultrafiltration membranes were prepared by incorporating nanotubes clay halloysite (HNTs) into polysulfone (PSF) and PSF/polyvinylpyrrolidone (PVP) dope solutions followed by membrane casting using phase inversion method. Characterization of HNTs were conducted using scanning electron microscopy (SEM), transmission electron [...] Read more.
In the present study, nanocomposite ultrafiltration membranes were prepared by incorporating nanotubes clay halloysite (HNTs) into polysulfone (PSF) and PSF/polyvinylpyrrolidone (PVP) dope solutions followed by membrane casting using phase inversion method. Characterization of HNTs were conducted using scanning electron microscopy (SEM), transmission electron microscopy (TEM), energy-dispersive X-ray spectroscopy (EDS), X-ray diffraction (XRD), and thermogravimetric (TGA) analysis. The pore structure, morphology, hydrophilicity and mechanical properties of the composite membranes were characterized by using SEM, water contact angle (WCA) measurements, and dynamic mechanical analysis. It was shown that the incorporation of HNTs enhanced hydrophilicity and mechanical properties of the prepared PSF membranes. Compared to the pristine PSF membrane, results show that the total porosity and pore size of PSF/HNTs composite membranes increased when HNTs loadings were more than 0.5 wt % and 1.0 wt %, respectively. These findings correlate well with changes in water flux of the prepared membranes. It was observed that HNTs were homogenously dispersed within the PSF membrane matrix at HNTs content of 0.1 to 0.5 wt % and the PSF/HNTs membranes prepared by incorporating 0.2 wt % HNTs loading possess the optimal mechanical properties in terms of elastic modulus and yield stress. In the case of the PSF/PVP matrix, the optimal mechanical properties were obtained with 0.3 wt % of HNTs because PVP enhances the HNTs distribution. Results of bovine serum albumin (BSA) filtration tests indicated that PSF/0.2 wt % HNTs membrane exhibited high BSA rejection and notable anti-fouling properties. Full article
(This article belongs to the Section Membrane Analysis and Characterization)
Show Figures

Graphical abstract

Article
Effects of a Novel Adsorbent on Membrane Fouling by Natural Organic Matter in Drinking Water Treatment
Membranes 2019, 9(11), 151; https://doi.org/10.3390/membranes9110151 - 12 Nov 2019
Cited by 3
Abstract
Irreversible fouling of water filtration membranes reduces filter longevity and results in higher costs associated with membrane maintenance and premature replacement. The search for effective pretreatment methods to remove foulants that tend to irreversibly foul membranes is ongoing. In this study, a novel [...] Read more.
Irreversible fouling of water filtration membranes reduces filter longevity and results in higher costs associated with membrane maintenance and premature replacement. The search for effective pretreatment methods to remove foulants that tend to irreversibly foul membranes is ongoing. In this study, a novel adsorbent (Heated Aluminum Oxide Particles (HAOPs)) was deployed in a fully automated pilot system to remove natural organic matter (NOM) from the surface water source used at the UniVann water treatment plant (WTP) in Ullensaker County, Norway. The pilot plant treatment process consists of passing the water through a thin layer of HAOPs that has been deposited on a mesh support. The HAOPs layer acts as an active packed bed which removes NOM from the water. Fluxes around 120 L/m2/h (LMH) at transmembrane pressure (TMP) below 10.7 psi (0.7 bar) were achieved over production cycles excessing 12 h. Treatment achieved always >85% colour removal and effluent colour <5 mg Pt/L (the target of treatment), and always <0.01 NTU turbidity and non-detectable suspended solids in the permeate. The HAOPs mixture after saturated with NOM is easy to remove by disruption of the HAOPs by rinsing the mesh surface, and the sludge is easily dewatered to higher of dry solids content. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue EWM 2019: Membranes for a Sustainable Future)
Show Figures

Figure 1

Article
Synthesis, Transfer, and Gas Separation Characteristics of MOF-Templated Polymer Membranes
Membranes 2019, 9(10), 124; https://doi.org/10.3390/membranes9100124 - 20 Sep 2019
Cited by 7
Abstract
This paper discusses the potential of polymer networks, templated by crystalline metal–organic framework (MOF), as novel selective layer material in thin film composite membranes. The ability to create mechanically stable membranes with an ultra-thin selective layer of advanced polymer materials is highly desirable [...] Read more.
This paper discusses the potential of polymer networks, templated by crystalline metal–organic framework (MOF), as novel selective layer material in thin film composite membranes. The ability to create mechanically stable membranes with an ultra-thin selective layer of advanced polymer materials is highly desirable in membrane technology. Here, we describe a novel polymeric membrane, which is synthesized via the conversion of a surface anchored metal–organic framework (SURMOF) into a surface anchored gel (SURGEL). The SURGEL membranes combine the high variability in the building blocks and the possibility to control the network topology and membrane thickness of the SURMOF synthesis with high mechanical and chemical stability of polymers. Next to the material design, the transfer of membranes to suitable supports is also usually a challenging task, due to the fragile nature of the ultra-thin films. To overcome this issue, we utilized a porous support on top of the membrane, which is mechanically stable enough to allow for the easy membrane transfer from the synthesis substrate to the final membrane support. To demonstrate the potential for gas separation of the synthesized SURGEL membranes, as well as the suitability of the transfer method, we determined the permeance for eight gases with different kinetic diameters. Full article
(This article belongs to the Section Polymeric Membranes)
Show Figures

Graphical abstract

Article
A Facile Synthesis of (PIM-Polyimide)-(6FDA-Durene-Polyimide) Copolymer as Novel Polymer Membranes for CO2 Separation
Membranes 2019, 9(9), 113; https://doi.org/10.3390/membranes9090113 - 31 Aug 2019
Cited by 5
Abstract
Random copolymers made of both (PIM-polyimide) and (6FDA-durene-PI) were prepared for the first time by a facile one-step polycondensation reaction. By combining the highly porous and contorted structure of PIM (polymers with intrinsic microporosity) and high thermomechanical properties of PI (polyimide), the membranes [...] Read more.
Random copolymers made of both (PIM-polyimide) and (6FDA-durene-PI) were prepared for the first time by a facile one-step polycondensation reaction. By combining the highly porous and contorted structure of PIM (polymers with intrinsic microporosity) and high thermomechanical properties of PI (polyimide), the membranes obtained from these random copolymers [(PIM-PI)-(6FDA-durene-PI)] showed high CO2 permeability (>1047 Barrer) with moderate CO2/N2 (> 16.5) and CO2/CH4 (> 18) selectivity, together with excellent thermal and mechanical properties. The membranes prepared from three different compositions of two comonomers (1:4, 1:6 and 1:10 of x:y), all showed similar morphological and physical properties, and gas separating performance, indicating ease of synthesis and practicability for production in large scale. The gas separation performance of these membranes at various pressure ranges (100–1500 torr) was also investigated. Full article
(This article belongs to the Section Polymeric Membranes)
Show Figures

Graphical abstract

Article
Synthesis and Performance of 6FDA-Based Polyimide-Ionenes and Composites with Ionic Liquids as Gas Separation Membranes
Membranes 2019, 9(7), 79; https://doi.org/10.3390/membranes9070079 - 03 Jul 2019
Cited by 19
Abstract
Three new isomeric 6FDA-based polyimide-ionenes, with imidazolium moieties and varying regiochemistry (para-, meta-, and ortho- connectivity), and composites with three different ionic liquids (ILs) have been developed as gas separation membranes. The structural-property relationships and gas separation behaviors of the newly developed [...] Read more.
Three new isomeric 6FDA-based polyimide-ionenes, with imidazolium moieties and varying regiochemistry (para-, meta-, and ortho- connectivity), and composites with three different ionic liquids (ILs) have been developed as gas separation membranes. The structural-property relationships and gas separation behaviors of the newly developed 6FDA polyimide-ionene + IL composites have been extensively studied. All the 6FDA-based polyimide-ionenes exhibited good compatibility with the ILs and produced homogeneous hybrid membranes with the high thermal stability of ~380 °C. Particularly, [6FDA I4A pXy][Tf2N] ionene + IL hybrids having [C4mim][Tf2N] and [Bnmim][Tf2N] ILs offered mechanically stable matrixes with high CO2 affinity. The permeability of CO2 was increased by factors of 2 and 3 for C4mim and Bnmim hybrids (2.15 to 6.32 barrers), respectively, compared to the neat [6FDA I4A pXy][Tf2N] without sacrificing their permselectivity for CO2/CH4 and CO2/N2 gas pairs. Full article
Show Figures

Graphical abstract