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.

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Article
Optimization of Aquaporin Loading for Performance Enhancement of Aquaporin-Based Biomimetic Thin-Film Composite Membranes
Membranes 2022, 12(1), 32; https://doi.org/10.3390/membranes12010032 - 27 Dec 2021
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 982
Abstract
The aquaporin-based biomimetic thin-film composite membrane (ABM-TFC) has demonstrated superior separation performance and achieved successful commercialization. The larger-scale production of the ABM membrane requires an appropriate balance between the performance and manufacturing cost. This study has systematically investigated the effects of proteoliposome concentration, [...] Read more.
The aquaporin-based biomimetic thin-film composite membrane (ABM-TFC) has demonstrated superior separation performance and achieved successful commercialization. The larger-scale production of the ABM membrane requires an appropriate balance between the performance and manufacturing cost. This study has systematically investigated the effects of proteoliposome concentration, protein-to-lipid ratio, as well as the additive on the separation performance of ABM for the purpose of finding the optimal preparation conditions for the ABM from the perspective of industrial production. Although increasing the proteoliposome concentration or protein-to-lipid ratio within a certain range could significantly enhance the water permeability of ABMs by increasing the loading of aquaporins in the selective layer, the enhancement effect was marginal or even compromised beyond an optimal point. Alternatively, adding cholesterol in the proteoliposome could further enhance the water flux of the ABM membrane, with minor effects on the salt rejection. The optimized ABM not only achieved a nearly doubled water flux with unchanged salt rejection compared to the control, but also demonstrated satisfactory filtration stability within a wide range of operation temperatures. This study provides a practical strategy for the optimization of ABM-TFC membranes to fit within the scheme of industrial-scale production. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Honorary Issue for Professor Anthony Fane)
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Article
Modeling Asymmetry of a Current–Voltage Curve of a Novel MF-4SC/PTMSP Bilayer Membrane
Membranes 2022, 12(1), 22; https://doi.org/10.3390/membranes12010022 - 24 Dec 2021
Cited by 2 | Viewed by 768
Abstract
A novel bilayer cation-exchange membrane—consisting of a thick layer of a pristine perfluorinated membrane MF-4SC (Russian equivalent of Nafion®-117) and a thinner layer (1 μm) of the membrane, on a base of glassy polymer of internal microporosity poly(1-trimethylsilyl-1-propyne) (PTMSP)—was prepared and [...] Read more.
A novel bilayer cation-exchange membrane—consisting of a thick layer of a pristine perfluorinated membrane MF-4SC (Russian equivalent of Nafion®-117) and a thinner layer (1 μm) of the membrane, on a base of glassy polymer of internal microporosity poly(1-trimethylsilyl-1-propyne) (PTMSP)—was prepared and characterized. Using the physicochemical characteristics of one-layer membranes MF-4SC and PTMSP in 0.05 M HCl and NaCl solutions, the asymmetric current–voltage curves (CVC) of the bilayer composite were described with good accuracy up to the overlimiting regime, based on the “fine-porous membrane” model. The MF-4SC/PTMSP bilayer composite has a significant asymmetry of CVC that is promising for using it in electromembrane devices, such as membrane detectors, sensors, and diodes. Full article
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Article
Novel Mixed Matrix Membranes Based on Polymer of Intrinsic Microporosity PIM-1 Modified with Metal-Organic Frameworks for Removal of Heavy Metal Ions and Food Dyes by Nanofiltration
Membranes 2022, 12(1), 14; https://doi.org/10.3390/membranes12010014 - 23 Dec 2021
Cited by 4 | Viewed by 1238
Abstract
Nowadays, nanofiltration is widely used for water treatment due to its advantages, such as energy-saving, sustainability, high efficiency, and compact equipment. In the present work, novel nanofiltration membranes based on the polymer of intrinsic microporosity PIM-1 modified by metal-organic frameworks (MOFs)—MIL-140A and MIL-125—were [...] Read more.
Nowadays, nanofiltration is widely used for water treatment due to its advantages, such as energy-saving, sustainability, high efficiency, and compact equipment. In the present work, novel nanofiltration membranes based on the polymer of intrinsic microporosity PIM-1 modified by metal-organic frameworks (MOFs)—MIL-140A and MIL-125—were developed to increase nanofiltration efficiency for the removal of heavy metal ions and dyes. The structural and physicochemical properties of the developed PIM-1 and PIM-1/MOFs membranes were studied by the spectroscopic technique (FTIR), microscopic methods (SEM and AFM), and contact angle measurement. Transport properties of the developed PIM-1 and PIM-1/MOFs membranes were evaluated in the nanofiltration of the model and real mixtures containing food dyes and heavy metal ions. It was found that the introduction of MOFs (MIL-140A and MIL-125) led to an increase in membrane permeability. It was demonstrated that the membranes could be used to remove and concentrate the food dyes and heavy metal ions from model and real mixtures. Full article
(This article belongs to the Collection Polymeric Membranes: Science, Materials and Applications)
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Article
Enhancing Absorption Performance of CO2 by Amine Solution through the Spiral Wired Channel in Concentric Circular Membrane Contactors
Membranes 2022, 12(1), 4; https://doi.org/10.3390/membranes12010004 - 21 Dec 2021
Viewed by 919
Abstract
The CO2 absorption rate by using a Monoethanolamide (MEA) solution through the spiral wired channel in concentric circular membrane contactors under both concurrent-flow and countercurrent-flow operations was investigated experimentally and theoretically. The one-dimensional mathematical modeling equation developed for predicting the absorption rate [...] Read more.
The CO2 absorption rate by using a Monoethanolamide (MEA) solution through the spiral wired channel in concentric circular membrane contactors under both concurrent-flow and countercurrent-flow operations was investigated experimentally and theoretically. The one-dimensional mathematical modeling equation developed for predicting the absorption rate and concentration distributions was solved numerically using the fourth Runge–Kutta method under various absorbent flow rate, CO2 feed flow rate and inlet CO2 concentration in the gas feed. An economical viewpoint of the spiral wired module was examined by assessing both absorption flux improvement and power consumption increment. Meanwhile, the correlated average Sherwood number to predict the mass-transfer coefficient of the CO2 absorption mechanisms in a concentric circular membrane contactor with the spiral wired annulus channel is also obtained in a generalized and simplified expression. The theoretical predictions of absorption flux improvement were validated by experimental results in good agreements. The amine solution flowing through the annulus of a concentric circular tube, which was inserted in a tight-fitting spiral wire in a small annular spacing, could enhance the CO2 absorption flux improvement due to reduction of the concentration polarization effect. A larger concentration polarization coefficient (CPC) was achieved in the countercurrent-flow operations than that in concurrent-flow operations for various operations conditions and spiral-wire pitches. The absorption flux improvement for inserting spiral wire in the concentric circular module could provide the maximum relative increment up to 46.45%. Full article
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Article
Nanofibrous Membrane with Encapsulated Glucose Oxidase for Self-Sustained Antimicrobial Applications
Membranes 2021, 11(12), 997; https://doi.org/10.3390/membranes11120997 - 20 Dec 2021
Cited by 3 | Viewed by 1028
Abstract
Polyvinyl alcohol (PVA) nanofibrous membrane, consisting of separately encapsulated glucose oxidase (GOx) and glucose (Glu) nanofibers, was prepared via simultaneously electrospinning PVA/GOx and PVA/Glu dopes. The as-prepared pristine membrane could self-sustainably generate hydrogen peroxide (H2O2) only in contact with [...] Read more.
Polyvinyl alcohol (PVA) nanofibrous membrane, consisting of separately encapsulated glucose oxidase (GOx) and glucose (Glu) nanofibers, was prepared via simultaneously electrospinning PVA/GOx and PVA/Glu dopes. The as-prepared pristine membrane could self-sustainably generate hydrogen peroxide (H2O2) only in contact with an aqueous solution. The H2O2 production level was well maintained even after storing the dry membrane at room temperature for 7 days. Cross-linking the membrane via reaction with glutaraldehyde (GA) vapor could not only prevent the nanofibrous membrane from dissolving in water but also prolonged the release of H2O2. The sustained release of H2O2 from the membrane achieved antimicrobial capability equivalent to that of 1% H2O2 against both Escherichia coli and Staphylococcus aureus. Gram(+) S. aureus cells were more susceptible to H2O2 than Gram(−) E. coli and >99% of S. aureus were killed after 1 h incubation with the membrane. Pristine and GA-crosslinked nanofibrous membrane with in situ production of H2O2 were self-sterilized in which no microorganism contamination on the membrane could be detected after 2 weeks incubation on an agar plate. The GOx/Glu membrane may find potential application as versatile antimicrobial materials in the field of biomedicine, in the food and health industries, and especially challenges related to wound healing in diabetic patients. Full article
(This article belongs to the Collection Polymeric Membranes: Science, Materials and Applications)
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Article
Hollow-Fiber RO Membranes Fabricated via Adsorption of Low-Charge Poly(vinyl alcohol) Copolymers
Membranes 2021, 11(12), 981; https://doi.org/10.3390/membranes11120981 - 15 Dec 2021
Viewed by 973
Abstract
We report a new type of alkaline-stable hollow-fiber reverse osmosis (RO) membrane with an outside-in configuration that was established via adsorption of positively charged poly(vinyl alcohol) copolymers containing a small amount of quaternary ammonium moieties. Anionic sulfonated poly(arylene ether sulfone nitrile) hollow-fiber membranes [...] Read more.
We report a new type of alkaline-stable hollow-fiber reverse osmosis (RO) membrane with an outside-in configuration that was established via adsorption of positively charged poly(vinyl alcohol) copolymers containing a small amount of quaternary ammonium moieties. Anionic sulfonated poly(arylene ether sulfone nitrile) hollow-fiber membranes were utilized as a substrate upon which the cationic copolymer layer was self-organized via electrostatic interaction. While the adsorption of the low-charge copolymer on the membrane support proceeded in a Layer-by-Layer (LbL) fashion, it was found that the adsorbed amount by one immersion step was enough to form a defect-free separation layer with a thickness of around 20 nm after cross-linking of vinyl alcohol units with glutaraldehyde. The resultant hollow-fiber membrane showed excellent desalination performances (NaCl rejection of 98.3% at 5 bar and 1500 mg/L), which is comparable with commercial low-pressure polyamide RO membranes, as well as good alkaline resistance. The separation performance could be restored by repeating the LbL treatment after alkaline degradation. Such features of LbL membranes may contribute to extending RO membrane lifetimes. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue State-of-the-Art Membrane Science and Technology in Japan 2021, 2022)
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Article
Membrane Domain Localization and Interaction of the Prion-Family Proteins, Prion and Shadoo with Calnexin
Membranes 2021, 11(12), 978; https://doi.org/10.3390/membranes11120978 - 13 Dec 2021
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 970
Abstract
The cellular prion protein (PrPC) is renowned for its infectious conformational isoform PrPSc, capable of templating subsequent conversions of healthy PrPCs and thus triggering the group of incurable diseases known as transmissible spongiform encephalopathies. Besides this mechanism [...] Read more.
The cellular prion protein (PrPC) is renowned for its infectious conformational isoform PrPSc, capable of templating subsequent conversions of healthy PrPCs and thus triggering the group of incurable diseases known as transmissible spongiform encephalopathies. Besides this mechanism not being fully uncovered, the protein’s physiological role is also elusive. PrPC and its newest, less understood paralog Shadoo are glycosylphosphatidylinositol-anchored proteins highly expressed in the central nervous system. While they share some attributes and neuroprotective actions, opposing roles have also been reported for the two; however, the amount of data about their exact functions is lacking. Protein–protein interactions and membrane microdomain localizations are key determinants of protein function. Accurate identification of these functions for a membrane protein, however, can become biased due to interactions occurring during sample processing. To avoid such artifacts, we apply a non-detergent-based membrane-fractionation approach to study the prion protein and Shadoo. We show that the two proteins occupy similarly raft and non-raft membrane fractions when expressed in N2a cells and that both proteins pull down the chaperone calnexin in both rafts and non-rafts. These indicate their possible binding to calnexin in both types of membrane domains, which might be a necessary requisite to aid the inherently unstable native conformation during their lifetime. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Membrane Domains Organization and Interactions)
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Article
Distillate Flux Enhancement of Direct Contact Membrane Distillation Modules with Inserting Cross-Diagonal Carbon-Fiber Spacers
Membranes 2021, 11(12), 973; https://doi.org/10.3390/membranes11120973 - 09 Dec 2021
Viewed by 816
Abstract
A new design of direct-contact membrane distillation (DCMD) modules with cross-diagonal carbon-fiber spacers of various hydrodynamic angles in flow channels to promote turbulence intensity was proposed to enhance pure water productivity. Attempts to reduce the temperature polarization coefficient were achieved by inserting cross-diagonal [...] Read more.
A new design of direct-contact membrane distillation (DCMD) modules with cross-diagonal carbon-fiber spacers of various hydrodynamic angles in flow channels to promote turbulence intensity was proposed to enhance pure water productivity. Attempts to reduce the temperature polarization coefficient were achieved by inserting cross-diagonal carbon-fiber spacers in channels, which create wakes and eddies in both heat and mass transfer behaviors to enhance the permeate flux enhancement. A simplified equation was formulated to obtain the theoretical predictions of heat transfer coefficients in the current DCMD device. The permeate fluxes and temperature distributions of both hot and cold feed streams are represented graphically with the inlet volumetric flow rate and inlet temperature of the hot saline feed stream as parameters. The higher distillate flux of countercurrent-flow operations for saline water desalination was accomplished as compared to the concurrent-flow operations of various hydrodynamic angles. The results show that the agreement between the theoretical predictions and experimental results is reasonably good. The effects of countercurrent-flow operations and inserting carbon fiber spacers have confirmed technical feasibility and device performance enhancement of up to 45%. The influences of operating and design parameters on the pure water productivity with the expense of energy consumption are also discussed. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Special Issue in Honor of Professor Ahmad Fauzi Ismail)
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Article
Effect of Nanopatterning on Concentration Polarization during Nanofiltration
Membranes 2021, 11(12), 961; https://doi.org/10.3390/membranes11120961 - 07 Dec 2021
Cited by 3 | Viewed by 1242
Abstract
Membranes used for desalination still face challenges during operation. One of these challenges is the buildup of salt ions at the membrane surface. This is known as concentration polarization, and it has a negative effect on membrane water permeance and salt rejection. In [...] Read more.
Membranes used for desalination still face challenges during operation. One of these challenges is the buildup of salt ions at the membrane surface. This is known as concentration polarization, and it has a negative effect on membrane water permeance and salt rejection. In an attempt to decrease concentration polarization, a line-and-groove nanopattern was applied to a nanofiltration (NF) membrane. Aqueous sodium sulfate (Na2SO4) solutions were used to test the rejection and permeance of both pristine and patterned membranes. It was found that the nanopatterns did not reduce but increased the concentration polarization at the membrane surface. Based on these studies, different pattern shapes and sizes should be investigated to gain a fundamental understanding of the influence of pattern size and shape on concentration polarization. Full article
(This article belongs to the Collection Polymeric Membranes: Science, Materials and Applications)
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Article
Membrane Distillation: Pre-Treatment Effects on Fouling Dynamics
Membranes 2021, 11(12), 958; https://doi.org/10.3390/membranes11120958 - 03 Dec 2021
Cited by 2 | Viewed by 797
Abstract
In the research reported in this paper, membrane distillation was employed to recover water from a concentrated saline petrochemical effluent. According to the results, the use of membrane distillation is technically feasible when pre-treatments are employed to mitigate fouling. A mathematical model was [...] Read more.
In the research reported in this paper, membrane distillation was employed to recover water from a concentrated saline petrochemical effluent. According to the results, the use of membrane distillation is technically feasible when pre-treatments are employed to mitigate fouling. A mathematical model was used to evaluate the fouling mechanism, showing that the deposition of particulate and precipitated material occurred in all tests; however, the fouling dynamic depends on the pre-treatment employed (filtration, or filtration associated with a pH adjustment). The deposit layer formed by particles is not cohesive, allowing its entrainment to the bulk flow. The precipitate fouling showed a minimal tendency to entrainment. Also, precipitate fouling served as a coupling agent among adjacent particles, increasing the fouling layer cohesion. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Water Treatment Process)
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Article
Upgrading Biogas from Small Agricultural Sources into Biomethane by Membrane Separation
Membranes 2021, 11(12), 938; https://doi.org/10.3390/membranes11120938 - 27 Nov 2021
Cited by 2 | Viewed by 775
Abstract
The agriculture sector in Poland could provide 7.8 billion m3 of biogas per year, but this potential would be from dispersed plants of a low capacity. In the current study, a membrane process was investigated for the upgrading biogas to biomethane that [...] Read more.
The agriculture sector in Poland could provide 7.8 billion m3 of biogas per year, but this potential would be from dispersed plants of a low capacity. In the current study, a membrane process was investigated for the upgrading biogas to biomethane that conforms to the requirements for grid gas in Poland. It was assumed that such a process is based on membranes made from modified polysulfone or polyimide, available in the market in Air Products PRISM PA1020 and UBE UMS-A5 modules, respectively. The case study has served an agricultural biogas plant in southern Poland, which provides the stream of 5 m3 (STP) h−1 of biogas with a composition of CH4 (52 vol.%), CO2 (46.3 vol.%), N2 (1.6 vol.%) and O2 (0.1 vol.%), after a pretreatment. It was theoretically shown that this is possible to obtain the biomethane stream of at least 96 vol.% of CH4 purity, with the concentration of the other biogas components below their respective thresholds, as required in Poland for gas fuel “E”, with methane recovery of up to 87.5% and 71.6% for polyimide and polysulfone membranes, respectively. The energetic efficiency of the separation process is comparable for both membrane materials, as expressed by power excess index, which reaches up to 51.3 kWth kWel−1 (polyimide) and 40.7 kWth kWel−1 (polysulfone). In turn, the membrane productivity was significantly higher in the case of the polyimide membrane (up to 38.3 kWth m−2) than those based on the polysulfone one (up to 3.13 kWth m−2). Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue State-of-the-Art Membrane Science and Technology in Poland 2021-2022)
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Article
Zwitterionic Polysulfone Copolymer/Polysulfone Blended Ultrafiltration Membranes with Excellent Thermostability and Antifouling Properties
Membranes 2021, 11(12), 932; https://doi.org/10.3390/membranes11120932 - 26 Nov 2021
Cited by 2 | Viewed by 586
Abstract
Membrane fouling has been one of the most important challenges in membrane separation operations. In this study, we report a facile strategy to prepare antifouling polysulfone (PSf) UF membranes by blending amphiphilic zwitterion polysulfone-co-sulfobetaine polysulfone (PSf-co-SBPSf) copolymer. The copolymer chemical structure was characterized [...] Read more.
Membrane fouling has been one of the most important challenges in membrane separation operations. In this study, we report a facile strategy to prepare antifouling polysulfone (PSf) UF membranes by blending amphiphilic zwitterion polysulfone-co-sulfobetaine polysulfone (PSf-co-SBPSf) copolymer. The copolymer chemical structure was characterized by 1HNMR spectroscopy. The PSf/PSf-co-SBPSf blend membranes with various zwitterionic SBPSf segment contents exhibited better surface hydrophilicity and excellent antifouling ability compared to PSf and PSf/PEG membranes. The significant increase of both porosity and water permeance indicates that the PSf-co-SBPSf has a pore-forming effect. The pure water flux and flux recovery ratio of the PSf/PSf-co-SBPSf blend membranes were both remarked to improve 286.43 L/m2h and 92.26%, while bovine serum albumin (BSA) rejection remained at a high level (97.66%). More importantly, the water flux and BSA rejection see minimal variance after heat treatment, indicating excellent thermostability. Overall, the PSf/PSf-co-SBPSf blend membranes achieved a comprehensive performance of sustainable hydrophilic, high permeation flux, and remarkable antifouling ability, thus becoming a promising candidate in high-temperature separation application. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Membrane Fouling Control in Water Treatment)
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Article
Development of Pure Silica CHA Membranes for CO2 Separation
Membranes 2021, 11(12), 926; https://doi.org/10.3390/membranes11120926 - 25 Nov 2021
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 883
Abstract
Thin pure-silica chabazite (Si-CHA) membranes have been synthesized by using a secondary growth method on a porous silica substrate. A CO2 permeance of 2.62 × 10−6 mol m−2 s−1 Pa−1 with a CO2/CH4 permeance ratio [...] Read more.
Thin pure-silica chabazite (Si-CHA) membranes have been synthesized by using a secondary growth method on a porous silica substrate. A CO2 permeance of 2.62 × 10−6 mol m−2 s−1 Pa−1 with a CO2/CH4 permeance ratio of 62 was obtained through a Si-CHA membrane crystallized for 8 h using a parent gel of H2O/SiO2 ratio of 4.6. The CO2 permeance through the Si-CHA membrane on a porous silica substrate was twice as high as that through the membrane synthesized on a porous alumina substrate, which displayed a similar zeolite layer thickness. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Special Issue in Honor of Professor Ahmad Fauzi Ismail)
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Article
O-GlcNAcylation Inhibits Endocytosis of Amyloid Precursor Protein by Decreasing Its Localization in Lipid Raft Microdomains
Membranes 2021, 11(12), 909; https://doi.org/10.3390/membranes11120909 - 23 Nov 2021
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 586
Abstract
Like protein phosphorylation, O-GlcNAcylation is a common post-translational protein modification. We already reported that O-GlcNAcylation of amyloid precursor protein (APP) in response to insulin signaling reduces neurotoxic amyloid-β (Aβ) production via inhibition of APP endocytosis. Internalized APP is delivered to endosomes and lysosomes [...] Read more.
Like protein phosphorylation, O-GlcNAcylation is a common post-translational protein modification. We already reported that O-GlcNAcylation of amyloid precursor protein (APP) in response to insulin signaling reduces neurotoxic amyloid-β (Aβ) production via inhibition of APP endocytosis. Internalized APP is delivered to endosomes and lysosomes where Aβ is produced. However, the molecular mechanism involved in the effect of APP O-GlcNAcylation on APP trafficking remains unknown. To investigate the relationship between APP O-GlcNAcylation and APP endocytosis, we tested the effects of insulin on neuroblastoma SH-SY5Y cells overexpressing APP and BACE1, and cultured rat hippocampal neurons. The present study showed that APP O-GlcNAcylation translocated APP from lipid raft to non-raft microdomains in the plasma membrane by using immunocytochemistry and discontinuous sucrose gradients method. By using the biotinylation method, we also found that APP preferentially underwent endocytosis from lipid rafts and that the amount of internalized APP from lipid rafts was specifically reduced by O-GlcNAcylation. These results indicate that O-GlcNAcylation can regulate lipid raft-dependent APP endocytosis via translocation of APP into non-raft microdomains. Our findings showed a new functional role of O-GlcNAcylation for the regulation of APP trafficking, offering new mechanistic insight for Aβ production. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Membrane Domains Organization and Interactions)
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Article
Membranes for the Gas/Liquid Phase Separation at Elevated Temperatures: Characterization of the Liquid Entry Pressure
Membranes 2021, 11(12), 907; https://doi.org/10.3390/membranes11120907 - 23 Nov 2021
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 450
Abstract
Hydrophobic membranes were characterized at elevated temperatures. Pressure was applied at the feed and permeate side to ensure liquid phase conditions. Within this scope, the applicability of different polymeric and ceramic membranes in terms of liquid entry pressure was studied using water. The [...] Read more.
Hydrophobic membranes were characterized at elevated temperatures. Pressure was applied at the feed and permeate side to ensure liquid phase conditions. Within this scope, the applicability of different polymeric and ceramic membranes in terms of liquid entry pressure was studied using water. The Visual Method and the Pressure Step Method were applied for the experimental investigation. The results show the Pressure Step Method to be an early detection method. The tests at higher pressure and temperature conditions using the Pressure Step Method revealed the temperature as being the main factor affecting the liquid entry pressure. Novel LEP data up to 120 °C and 2.5 bar were obtained, which broadens the application range of hydrophobic membranes. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Recent Advances in Membrane Distillation)
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Article
Anion Exchange Membranes Based on Imidazoline Quaternized Polystyrene Copolymers for Fuel Cell Applications
Membranes 2021, 11(11), 901; https://doi.org/10.3390/membranes11110901 - 22 Nov 2021
Cited by 2 | Viewed by 608
Abstract
Imidazoline is a five-membered heterocycle derived by the partial reduction of one double bond of the imidazole ring. This work prepared new anion exchange membranes (AEMs) based on imidazoline quaternized polystyrene copolymers bearing N-b-hydroxyethyl oleyl imidazolinium pendent groups to evaluate the application potential [...] Read more.
Imidazoline is a five-membered heterocycle derived by the partial reduction of one double bond of the imidazole ring. This work prepared new anion exchange membranes (AEMs) based on imidazoline quaternized polystyrene copolymers bearing N-b-hydroxyethyl oleyl imidazolinium pendent groups to evaluate the application potential for anion exchange membrane fuel cells (AEMFCs). For comparison, an imidazole quaternized polystyrene copolymer was also synthesized. The polymer chemical structure was confirmed by FTIR, NMR, and TGA. In addition, the essential properties of membranes, including ion exchange capacity (IEC), water uptake, and hydroxide conductivity, were measured. The alkaline stabilities of imidazolium-based and imidazolinium-based AEMs were compared by means of the changes in the TGA thermograms, FTIR spectra, and hydroxide conductivity during the alkaline treatment in 1 M KOH at 60 °C for 144 h. The results showed that the imidazolinium-based AEMs exhibited relatively lower hydroxide conductivity (5.77 mS/cm at 70 °C) but much better alkaline stability compared with the imidazolium-based AEM. The imidazolinium-based AEM (PSVBImn-50) retained 92% of its hydroxide conductivity after the alkaline treatment. Besides, the fuel cell performance of the imidazolium-based and imidazolinium-based AEMs was examined by single-cell tests. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Membranes in Electrochemistry Applications)
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Article
Extracellular Vesicles Tropism: A Comparative Study between Passive Innate Tropism and the Active Engineered Targeting Capability of Lymphocyte-Derived EVs
Membranes 2021, 11(11), 886; https://doi.org/10.3390/membranes11110886 - 18 Nov 2021
Cited by 4 | Viewed by 1989
Abstract
Cellular communications take place thanks to a well-connected network of chemical–physical signals, biomolecules, growth factors, and vesicular messengers that travel inside or between cells. A deep knowledge of the extracellular vesicle (EV) system allows for a better understanding of the whole series of [...] Read more.
Cellular communications take place thanks to a well-connected network of chemical–physical signals, biomolecules, growth factors, and vesicular messengers that travel inside or between cells. A deep knowledge of the extracellular vesicle (EV) system allows for a better understanding of the whole series of phenomena responsible for cell proliferation and death. To this purpose, here, a thorough immuno-phenotypic characterization of B-cell EV membranes is presented. Furthermore, the cellular membrane of B lymphocytes, Burkitt lymphoma, and human myeloid leukemic cells were characterized through cytofluorimetry assays and fluorescent microscopy analysis. Through cytotoxicity and internalization tests, the tropism of B lymphocyte-derived EVs was investigated toward the parental cell line and two different cancer cell lines. In this study, an innate capability of passive targeting of the native EVs was distinguished from the active targeting capability of monoclonal antibody-engineered EVs, able to selectively drive the vesicles, enhancing their internalization into the target cancer cells. In particular, the specific targeting ability of anti-CD20 engineered EVs towards Daudi cells, highly expressing CD20 marker on their cell membrane, was proved, while almost no internalization events were observed in HL60 cells, since they did not express an appreciable amount of the CD20 marker on their plasma membranes. Full article
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Pilot Plant for the Capture of Ammonia from the Atmosphere of Pig and Poultry Farms Using Gas-Permeable Membrane Technology
Membranes 2021, 11(11), 859; https://doi.org/10.3390/membranes11110859 - 07 Nov 2021
Cited by 3 | Viewed by 1025
Abstract
Gas-permeable membrane (GPM) technology is a possible solution to reduce ammonia (NH3) emissions from livestock housing. This paper presents the results obtained with an NH3-capture prototype based on the use of expanded polytetrafluoroethylene (ePTFE) membranes in real conditions in [...] Read more.
Gas-permeable membrane (GPM) technology is a possible solution to reduce ammonia (NH3) emissions from livestock housing. This paper presents the results obtained with an NH3-capture prototype based on the use of expanded polytetrafluoroethylene (ePTFE) membranes in real conditions in a gestating sow house and a free-range laying hen house, comparing them with the results obtained in controlled laboratory conditions for the same type of waste. The NH3 present in the air of the livestock housing was captured by reaction with an acidic solution flowing inside the membranes. The periods of continuous operation of the pilot plant were 232 days at the pig farm and 256 days at the poultry farm. The NH3 recovery rate at the end of those periods was 2.3 and 0.4 g TAN·m−2·d−1 in the pig and the poultry farms, respectively. The limiting factor for the capture process was the NH3 concentration in the air, with the highest recovery occurring in the most concentrated atmosphere. Differences in NH3 capture were observed between seasons and farms, with capture efficiencies of 1.62 and 0.33 g·m−2·d−1 in summer and 3.85 and 1.20 g·m−2·d−1 in winter for pig and poultry farms, respectively. The observed differences were mainly due to the higher ventilation frequency in the summer months, which resulted in a lower NH3 concentration inside the houses compared to the winter months. This is especially important when considering the real applicability of this technology. The results obtained suggest that GPM technology holds promise for limiting NH3 emissions from livestock housing with NH3 ambient concentrations close to 20 ppm or as part of manure storage facilities, given that it allows for recovery of nitrogen in a stable and concentrated solution, which can be used as a fertilizer. Full article
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Article
Cryo-EM Structure of Mechanosensitive Channel YnaI Using SMA2000: Challenges and Opportunities
Membranes 2021, 11(11), 849; https://doi.org/10.3390/membranes11110849 - 31 Oct 2021
Cited by 3 | Viewed by 1337
Abstract
Mechanosensitive channels respond to mechanical forces exerted on the cell membrane and play vital roles in regulating the chemical equilibrium within cells and their environment. High-resolution structural information is required to understand the gating mechanisms of mechanosensitive channels. Protein-lipid interactions are essential for [...] Read more.
Mechanosensitive channels respond to mechanical forces exerted on the cell membrane and play vital roles in regulating the chemical equilibrium within cells and their environment. High-resolution structural information is required to understand the gating mechanisms of mechanosensitive channels. Protein-lipid interactions are essential for the structural and functional integrity of mechanosensitive channels, but detergents cannot maintain the crucial native lipid environment for purified mechanosensitive channels. Recently, detergent-free systems have emerged as alternatives for membrane protein structural biology. This report shows that while membrane-active polymer, SMA2000, could retain some native cell membrane lipids on the transmembrane domain of the mechanosensitive-like YnaI channel, the complete structure of the transmembrane domain of YnaI was not resolved. This reveals a significant limitation of SMA2000 or similar membrane-active copolymers. This limitation may come from the heterogeneity of the polymers and nonspecific interactions between the polymers and the relatively large hydrophobic pockets within the transmembrane domain of YnaI. However, this limitation offers development opportunities for detergent-free technology for challenging membrane proteins. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue The Structure, Dynamics and Function of Membrane Proteins)
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Article
Bicomponent PLA Nanofiber Nonwovens as Highly Efficient Filtration Media for Particulate Pollutants and Pathogens
Membranes 2021, 11(11), 819; https://doi.org/10.3390/membranes11110819 - 27 Oct 2021
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 951
Abstract
Herein, a novel form of bicomponent nanofiber membrane containing stereo-complex polylactic acid (SC-PLA) was successfully produced by the side-by-side electrospinning of Poly (L-lactic acid) (PLLA) and Poly (D-lactic acid) (PDLA). We demonstrate that through these environmentally sustainable materials, highly efficient nanofiber assemblies for [...] Read more.
Herein, a novel form of bicomponent nanofiber membrane containing stereo-complex polylactic acid (SC-PLA) was successfully produced by the side-by-side electrospinning of Poly (L-lactic acid) (PLLA) and Poly (D-lactic acid) (PDLA). We demonstrate that through these environmentally sustainable materials, highly efficient nanofiber assemblies for filtration can be constructed at very low basis weight. The physical and morphological structure, crystalline structure, hydrophobicity, porous structure, and filtration performance of the fibrous membranes were thoroughly characterized. It was shown that the fabricated polylactic acid (PLA) side-by-side fiber membrane had the advantages of excellent hydrophobicity, small average pore size, high porosity, high filtration efficiency, low pressure drop as well as superior air permeability. At the very low basis weight of 1.1 g/m2, the filtration efficiency and pressure drop of the prepared side-by-side membrane reached 96.2% and 30 Pa, respectively. Overall, this biomass-based, biodegradable filtration material has the potential to replace the fossil fuel-based polypropylene commercial meltblown materials for the design and development in filtration, separation, biomedical, personal protection and other fields. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Electrospun Nanofiber Membranes: From Synthesis to Applications)
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Novel Cellulose Acetate-Based Monophasic Hybrid Membranes for Improved Blood Purification Devices: Characterization under Dynamic Conditions
Membranes 2021, 11(11), 825; https://doi.org/10.3390/membranes11110825 - 27 Oct 2021
Cited by 3 | Viewed by 853
Abstract
A novel cellulose acetate-based monophasic hybrid skinned amine-functionalized CA-SiO2-(CH2)3NH2 membrane was synthesized using an innovative method which combines the phase inversion and sol-gel techniques. Morphological characterization was performed by scanning electron microscopy (SEM), and the chemical [...] Read more.
A novel cellulose acetate-based monophasic hybrid skinned amine-functionalized CA-SiO2-(CH2)3NH2 membrane was synthesized using an innovative method which combines the phase inversion and sol-gel techniques. Morphological characterization was performed by scanning electron microscopy (SEM), and the chemical composition was analyzed by Fourier transform infrared spectroscopy in attenuated total reflection mode (ATR-FTIR). The characterization of the monophasic hybrid CA-SiO2-(CH2)3NH2 membrane in terms of permeation properties was carried out in an in-house-built single hemodialysis membrane module (SHDMM) under dynamic conditions. Permeation experiments were performed to determine the hydraulic permeability (Lp), molecular weight cut-off (MWCO) and the rejection coefficients to urea, creatinine, uric acid, and albumin. SEM confirmed the existence of a very thin (<1 µm) top dense layer and a much thicker bottom porous surface, and ATR-FTIR showed the main bands belonging to the CA-based membranes. Permeation studies revealed that the Lp and MWCO of the CA-SiO2-(CH2)3NH2 membrane were 66.61 kg·h−1·m−2·bar−1 and 24.5 kDa, respectively, and that the Lp was 1.8 times higher compared to a pure CA membrane. Furthermore, the CA-SiO2-(CH2)3NH2 membrane fully permeated urea, creatinine, and uric acid while completely retaining albumin. Long-term filtration studies of albumin solutions indicated that fouling does not occur at the surface of the CA-SiO2-(CH2)3NH2 membrane. Full article
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Article
In Vivo Secretion of β-Lactamase-Carrying Outer Membrane Vesicles as a Mechanism of β-Lactam Therapy Failure
Membranes 2021, 11(11), 806; https://doi.org/10.3390/membranes11110806 - 23 Oct 2021
Cited by 2 | Viewed by 908
Abstract
Outer membrane vesicles carrying β-lactamase (βLOMVs) protect bacteria against β-lactam antibiotics under experimental conditions, but their protective role during a patient’s treatment leading to the therapy failure is unknown. We investigated the role of βLOMVs in amoxicillin therapy failure in a patient with [...] Read more.
Outer membrane vesicles carrying β-lactamase (βLOMVs) protect bacteria against β-lactam antibiotics under experimental conditions, but their protective role during a patient’s treatment leading to the therapy failure is unknown. We investigated the role of βLOMVs in amoxicillin therapy failure in a patient with group A Streptococcus pyogenes (GAS) pharyngotonsillitis. The patient’s throat culture was examined by standard microbiological procedures. Bacterial vesicles were analyzed for β-lactamase by immunoblot and the nitrocefin assay, and in vivo secretion of βLOMVs was detected by electron microscopy. These analyses demonstrated that the patient’s throat culture grew, besides amoxicillin-susceptible GAS, an amoxicillin-resistant nontypeable Haemophilus influenzae (NTHi), which secreted βLOMVs. Secretion and β-lactamase activity of NTHi βLOMVs were induced by amoxicillin concentrations reached in the tonsils during therapy. The presence of NTHi βLOMVs significantly increased the minimal inhibitory concentration of amoxicillin for GAS and thereby protected GAS against bactericidal concentrations of amoxicillin. NTHi βLOMVs were identified in the patient’s pharyngotonsillar swabs and saliva, demonstrating their secretion in vivo at the site of infection. We conclude that the pathogen protection via βLOMVs secreted by the flora colonizing the infection site represents a yet underestimated mechanism of β-lactam therapy failure that warrants attention in clinical studies. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Cell Membrane Vesicles)
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Article
A Facile Method to Control Pore Structure of PVDF/SiO2 Composite Membranes for Efficient Oil/Water Purification
Membranes 2021, 11(11), 803; https://doi.org/10.3390/membranes11110803 - 22 Oct 2021
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 843
Abstract
The use of poly(vinylidene fluoride) (PVDF) microfiltration (MF) membranes to purify oily water has received much attention. However, it is challenging to obtain high-performance PVDF microfiltration membranes due to severe surface fouling and rapid decline of permeability. This study explored a new approach [...] Read more.
The use of poly(vinylidene fluoride) (PVDF) microfiltration (MF) membranes to purify oily water has received much attention. However, it is challenging to obtain high-performance PVDF microfiltration membranes due to severe surface fouling and rapid decline of permeability. This study explored a new approach to fabricate high-performance PVDF/silica (SiO2) composite membrane via the use of a polymer solution featuring lower critical solution temperature (LCST) characteristics and the non-solvent thermally induced phase separation method (NTIPS). Coupling with morphological observations, the membrane formation kinetics were analyzed in depth to understand the synergistic effect between the LCST solution properties and fabrication conditions in NTIPS. Utilizing such a synergistic effect, the transition from finger-like macrovoid pores to bi-continuous highly connected pores could be flexibly tuned by increasing the PVDF concentration and the weight ratio of SiO2/PVDF in the dope solution and by raising the coagulation temperature to above the LCST of the solution. The filtration experiments with surfactant-stabilized oil-water emulsion showed that the permeation flux of the PVDF/SiO2 composite membranes was higher than 318 L·m−2·h−1·bar−1 and the rejection above 99.2%. It was also shown that the PVDF/SiO2 composite membranes, especially those fabricated above the LCST, demonstrated better hydrophilicity, which resulted in significant enhancement in the anti-fouling properties for oil/water emulsion separation. Compared to the benchmark pure PVDF membrane in oily water purification, the optimal composite membrane T70 was demonstrated via the 3-cycle filtration experiments with a significantly improved flux recovery ratio (Frr) and minimal reduced irreversible fouling (Rir). Overall, with the developed method in this work, facile procedure to tune the membrane morphology and pore structure was demonstrated, resulting in high performance composite membranes suitable for oil/water emulsion separation. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Nanostructured Membranes II)
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Article
Prediction of Membrane Failure in a Water Purification Plant Using Nonhomogeneous Poisson Process Models
Membranes 2021, 11(11), 800; https://doi.org/10.3390/membranes11110800 - 20 Oct 2021
Viewed by 704
Abstract
The prediction of membrane failure in full-scale water purification plants is an important but difficult task. Although previous studies employed accelerated laboratory-scale tests of membrane failure, it is not possible to reproduce the complex operational conditions of full-scale plants. Therefore, we aimed to [...] Read more.
The prediction of membrane failure in full-scale water purification plants is an important but difficult task. Although previous studies employed accelerated laboratory-scale tests of membrane failure, it is not possible to reproduce the complex operational conditions of full-scale plants. Therefore, we aimed to develop prediction models of membrane failure using actual membrane failure data. Because membrane filtration systems are repairable systems, nonhomogeneous Poisson process (NHPP) models, i.e., power law and log-linear models, were employed; the model parameters were estimated using the membrane failure data from a full-scale plant operated for 13 years. Both models were able to predict cumulative failures for forthcoming years; nonetheless, the power law model showed higher stability and narrower confidence intervals than the log-linear model. By integrating two membrane replacement criteria, namely deterioration of filtrate water quality and reduction of membrane permeability, it was possible to predict the time to replace all the membranes on a water purification plant. Finally, the NHPP models coupled with a nonparametric bootstrap method provided a method to select membrane modules for earlier replacement than others. Although the criteria for membrane replacement may vary among membrane filtration plants, the NHPP models presented in this study could be applied to any other plant with membrane failure data. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Water and Wastewater Treatment Technologies with Membrane Filtration)
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Article
Biphenyl-Based Covalent Triazine Framework/Matrimid® Mixed-Matrix Membranes for CO2/CH4 Separation
Membranes 2021, 11(10), 795; https://doi.org/10.3390/membranes11100795 - 19 Oct 2021
Cited by 3 | Viewed by 1047
Abstract
Processes, such as biogas upgrading and natural gas sweetening, make CO2/CH4 separation an environmentally relevant and current topic. One way to overcome this separation issue is the application of membranes. An increase in separation efficiency can be achieved by applying [...] Read more.
Processes, such as biogas upgrading and natural gas sweetening, make CO2/CH4 separation an environmentally relevant and current topic. One way to overcome this separation issue is the application of membranes. An increase in separation efficiency can be achieved by applying mixed-matrix membranes, in which filler materials are introduced into polymer matrices. In this work, we report the covalent triazine framework CTF-biphenyl as filler material in a matrix of the glassy polyimide Matrimid®. MMMs with 8, 16, and 24 wt% of the filler material are applied for CO2/CH4 mixed-gas separation measurements. With a CTF-biphenyl loading of only 16 wt%, the CO2 permeability is more than doubled compared to the pure polymer membrane, while maintaining the high CO2/CH4 selectivity of Matrimid®. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Mixed-Matrix Membranes and Polymeric Membranes)
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Article
Fabrication of Polyelectrolyte Membranes of Pectin Graft-Copolymers with PVA and Their Composites with Phosphomolybdic Acid for Drug Delivery, Toxic Metal Ion Removal, and Fuel Cell Applications
Membranes 2021, 11(10), 792; https://doi.org/10.3390/membranes11100792 - 18 Oct 2021
Cited by 4 | Viewed by 1214
Abstract
In this study, a simple method for the fabrication of highly diffusive, adsorptive and conductive eco-friendly polyelectrolyte membranes (PEMs) with sulfonate functionalized pectin and poly(vinyl alcohol)(PVA) was established. The graft-copolymers were synthesized by employing the use of potassium persulfate as a free radical [...] Read more.
In this study, a simple method for the fabrication of highly diffusive, adsorptive and conductive eco-friendly polyelectrolyte membranes (PEMs) with sulfonate functionalized pectin and poly(vinyl alcohol)(PVA) was established. The graft-copolymers were synthesized by employing the use of potassium persulfate as a free radical initiator from pectin (PC), a carbohydrate polymer with 2-acrylamido-2-methyl-1-propanesulphonic acid (AMPS) and sodium 4-vinylbenzene sulphonate (SVBS). The PEMs were fabricated from the blends of pectin graft-copolymers (PC-g-AMPS and PC-g-SVBS) and PVA by using a solution casting method, followed by chemical crosslinking with glutaraldehyde. The composite PEMs were fabricated by mixing phosphomolybdic acid with the aforementioned blends. The PEMs were successfully characterized by FTIR, XRD, SEM, and EDAX studies. They were assessed for the controlled release of an anti-cancer drug (5-fluorouracil) and the removal of toxic metal ions (Cu2+) from aqueous media. Furthermore, the composite PEMs were evaluated for fuel cell application. The 5-fluorouracil release capacity of the PEMs was found to be 93% and 99.1% at 300 min in a phosphate buffer solution (pH = 7.4). The highest Cu2+ removal was observed at 206.7 and 190.1 mg/g. The phosphomolybdic acid-embedded PEMs showed superior methanol permeability, i.e., 6.83 × 10−5, and 5.94 × 10−5, compared to the pristine PEMs. Furthermore, the same trend was observed for the proton conductivities, i.e., 13.77 × 10−3, and 18.6 × 10−3 S/cm at 30 °C. Full article
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Article
An Experimental Performance Study of a Catalytic Membrane Reactor for Ethanol Steam Reforming over a Metal Honeycomb Catalyst
Membranes 2021, 11(10), 790; https://doi.org/10.3390/membranes11100790 - 18 Oct 2021
Cited by 2 | Viewed by 806
Abstract
The present study deals with the combination of ethanol steam reforming over a monolithic catalyst and hydrogen separation by membrane in a lab-scale catalytic membrane reactor (CMR). The catalyst was comprised of honeycomb thin-walled Fechralloy substrate loaded with Ni + Ru/Pr0.35Ce [...] Read more.
The present study deals with the combination of ethanol steam reforming over a monolithic catalyst and hydrogen separation by membrane in a lab-scale catalytic membrane reactor (CMR). The catalyst was comprised of honeycomb thin-walled Fechralloy substrate loaded with Ni + Ru/Pr0.35Ce0.35Zr0.35O2 active component. The asymmetric supported membrane consisted of a thin Ni-Cu alloy–Nd tungstate nanocomposite dense permselective layer deposited on a hierarchically structured asymmetric support. It has been shown that the monolithic catalyst-assisted CMR is capable of increasing the driving potential for hydrogen permeation through the same membrane as compared with that of the packed bed catalyst by increasing the retentate hydrogen concentration. Important operating parameters responsible for the low carbon deposition rate as well as the amount of hydrogen produced from 1 mol of ethanol, such as the temperature range of 700–900 °C, the water/ethanol molar ratio of 4 in the feed, have been determined. Regarding the choice of the reagent concentration (ethanol and steam in Ar), its magnitude may directly interfere with the effectiveness of the reaction-separation process in the CMR. Full article
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Article
Assessment of Sieverts Law Assumptions and ‘n’ Values in Palladium Membranes: Experimental and Theoretical Analyses
Membranes 2021, 11(10), 778; https://doi.org/10.3390/membranes11100778 - 12 Oct 2021
Cited by 2 | Viewed by 941
Abstract
Palladium and palladium alloy membranes are superior materials for hydrogen purification, removal, or reaction processes. Sieverts’ Law suggests that the flux of hydrogen through such membranes is proportional to the difference between the feed and permeate side partial pressures, each raised to the [...] Read more.
Palladium and palladium alloy membranes are superior materials for hydrogen purification, removal, or reaction processes. Sieverts’ Law suggests that the flux of hydrogen through such membranes is proportional to the difference between the feed and permeate side partial pressures, each raised to the 0.5 power (n = 0.5). Sieverts’ Law is widely applied in analyzing the steady state hydrogen permeation through Pd-based membranes, even in some cases where the assumptions made in deriving Sieverts’ Law do not apply. Often permeation data are fit to the model allowing the pressure exponent (n) to vary. This study experimentally assessed the validity of Sieverts’ Law as hydrogen was separated from other gases and theoretically modelled the effects of pressure and temperature on the assumptions and hence the accuracy of the 0.5-power law even with pure hydrogen feed. Hydrogen fluxes through Pd and Pd-Ag alloy foils from feed mixtures (5–83% helium in hydrogen; 473–573 K; with and without a sweep gas) were measured to study the effect of concentration polarization (CP) on hydrogen permeance and the applicability of Sieverts’ Law under such conditions. Concentration polarization was found to dominate hydrogen transport under some experimental conditions, particularly when feed concentrations of hydrogen were low. All mixture feed experiments showed deviation from Sieverts’ Law. For example, the hydrogen flux through Pd foil was found to be proportional to the partial pressure difference (n ≈ 1) rather than being proportional to the difference in the square root of the partial pressures (n = 0.5), as suggested by Sieverts’ Law, indicating the high degree of concentration polarization. A theoretical model accounting for Langmuir adsorption with temperature dependent adsorption equilibrium coefficient was made and used to assess the effect of varying feed pressure from 1–136 atm at fixed temperature, and of varying temperature from 298 to 1273 K at fixed pressure. Adsorption effects, which dominate at high pressure and at low temperature, result in pressure exponents (n) values less than 0.5. With better understanding of the transport steps, a qualitative analysis of literature (n) values of 0.5, 0.5 < n < 1, and n > 1, was conducted suggesting the role of each condition or step on the hydrogen transport based on the empirically fit exponent value. Full article
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Optimization of Energy Efficiency, Operation Costs, Carbon Footprint and Ecological Footprint with Reverse Osmosis Membranes in Seawater Desalination Plants
Membranes 2021, 11(10), 781; https://doi.org/10.3390/membranes11100781 - 12 Oct 2021
Cited by 3 | Viewed by 886
Abstract
This article shows the optimization of the reverse osmosis process in seawater desalination plants, taking the example of the Canary Islands, where there are more than 320 units of different sizes, both private and public. The objective is to improve the energy efficiency [...] Read more.
This article shows the optimization of the reverse osmosis process in seawater desalination plants, taking the example of the Canary Islands, where there are more than 320 units of different sizes, both private and public. The objective is to improve the energy efficiency of the system in order to save on operation costs as well as reduce the carbon and ecological footprints. Reverse osmosis membranes with higher surface area have lower energy consumption, as well as energy recovery systems to recover the brine pressure and introduce it in the system. Accounting for the operation, maintenance and handling of the membranes is also important in energy savings, in order to improve the energy efficiency. The energy consumption depends on the permeate water quality required and the model of the reverse osmosis membrane installed in the seawater desalination plant, as it is shown in this study. Full article
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Article
Improved CO2/CH4 Separation Properties of Cellulose Triacetate Mixed–Matrix Membranes with CeO2@GO Hybrid Fillers
Membranes 2021, 11(10), 777; https://doi.org/10.3390/membranes11100777 - 11 Oct 2021
Cited by 3 | Viewed by 1034
Abstract
The study of the effects associated with the compatibility of the components of the hybrid filler with polymer matrix, which ultimately decide on achieving mixed matrix membranes (MMMs) with better gas separation properties, is essential. Herein, a facile solution casting process of simple [...] Read more.
The study of the effects associated with the compatibility of the components of the hybrid filler with polymer matrix, which ultimately decide on achieving mixed matrix membranes (MMMs) with better gas separation properties, is essential. Herein, a facile solution casting process of simple incorporating CeO2@GO hybrid inorganic filler material is implemented. Significant improvements in material and physico-chemical properties of the synthesized membranes were observed by SEM, XRD, TGA, and stress-strain measurements. Usage of graphene oxide (GO) with polar groups on the surface enabled forming bonds with ceria (CeO2) nanoparticles and CTA polymer and provided the homogeneous dispersion of the nanofillers in the hybrid MMMs. Moreover, increasing GO loading concentration enhanced both gas permeation in MMMs and CO2 gas uptakes. The best performance was achieved by the membrane containing 7 wt.% of GO with CO2 permeability of 10.14 Barrer and CO2/CH4 selectivity 50.7. This increase in selectivity is almost fifteen folds higher than the CTA-CeO2 membrane sample, suggesting the detrimental effect of GO for enhancing the selectivity property of the MMMs. Hence, a favorable synergistic effect of CeO2@GO hybrid fillers on gas separation performance is observed, propounding the efficient and feasible strategy of using hybrid fillers in the membrane for the potential biogas upgrading process. Full article
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A Study to Enhance the Nitrate-Nitrogen Removal Rate without Dismantling the NF Module by Building a PFSA Ionomer-Coated NF Module
Membranes 2021, 11(10), 769; https://doi.org/10.3390/membranes11100769 - 09 Oct 2021
Cited by 2 | Viewed by 760
Abstract
Water resource pollution by nitrate-nitrogen, mainly caused by anthropogenic causes, induces eutrophication of water resources, and indicates the degree of organic pollution. Therefore, this study devised a method for coating PFSA ionomer with excellent chemical resistance without disassembling the module to improve the [...] Read more.
Water resource pollution by nitrate-nitrogen, mainly caused by anthropogenic causes, induces eutrophication of water resources, and indicates the degree of organic pollution. Therefore, this study devised a method for coating PFSA ionomer with excellent chemical resistance without disassembling the module to improve the removal rate of nitrate-nitrogen in water by using a cyclic coating method on a commercially available nanofiltration membrane (NF membrane) module. Nafion was prepared as a supercritical fluid dispersion using a high-temperature and high-pressure reactor, and the particle size and the degree of dispersion of the dispersion were analyzed by DLS. The crystallinity was confirmed through XRD by drying the dispersion in the liquid state. After the dispersion was prepared as a membrane according to the heat treatment conditions, the characteristics according to the particle size were analyzed by tensile strength and TEM. The nitrate-nitrogen removal rate of the NF membrane module coated with the dispersion was increased by 93% compared to that before coating. Therefore, the result showed that the cycle coating method devised in this study could efficiently coat the already commercialized module and improve performance. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Recent Membrane Research and Development in Korea)
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Article
Impact of Chlorinated-Assisted Backwash and Air Backwash on Ultrafiltration Fouling Management for Urban Wastewater Tertiary Treatment
Membranes 2021, 11(10), 733; https://doi.org/10.3390/membranes11100733 - 27 Sep 2021
Viewed by 770
Abstract
To improve membrane fouling management, the NaClO-assisted backwash has been developed to improve permeability maintenance and reduce the need for intensive chemical cleanings. This study is aimed to focus on the efficiency of NaClO-assisted backwash in real UF pilot scale and with periodic [...] Read more.
To improve membrane fouling management, the NaClO-assisted backwash has been developed to improve permeability maintenance and reduce the need for intensive chemical cleanings. This study is aimed to focus on the efficiency of NaClO-assisted backwash in real UF pilot scale and with periodic classic backwash (CB) and air backwash (AB). The impacts on hydraulic filtration performance, physicochemical properties of membrane material under different addition frequencies of NaClO, and the performance of chlorinated CB and AB will be discussed. In result, 10 mg Cl2 L−1 NaClO addition in backwash water is confirmed to greatly improve the overall filtration performance and backwash cleaning efficiency. One condition stands out from the other due to better control of irreversible fouling, less NaClO consumption in 10 years prediction, sustainable and adaptable filtration performance, and less potential damage on the physicochemical properties of the membrane. Additionally, it can be inferred from this experiment that frequent contact with NaClO induced some degradation on the PES-made UF membrane surface properties. To retain the best state of UF membrane on anti-fouling and qualified production, the optimized condition with more frequent NaClO contact was not suggested for long-term filtration. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Troubleshooting of Membrane Processes in Real Operation)
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Article
Experimental Study of a Heat Pump for Simultaneous Cooling and Desalination by Membrane Distillation
Membranes 2021, 11(10), 725; https://doi.org/10.3390/membranes11100725 - 23 Sep 2021
Cited by 4 | Viewed by 829
Abstract
Heat pump systems can simultaneously produce cooling energy for space cooling in hotels, office and residential buildings and heat for desalination using membrane distillation (MD). The MD technique uses a heat input at a temperature compatible with the levels of heat pump condensers [...] Read more.
Heat pump systems can simultaneously produce cooling energy for space cooling in hotels, office and residential buildings and heat for desalination using membrane distillation (MD). The MD technique uses a heat input at a temperature compatible with the levels of heat pump condensers (<60 °C). A heat pump prototype coupled with an air-gap membrane distillation unit was constructed and tested. This paper presents the experimental study on a lab-scale prototype and details the two operating modes “continuous” and “controlled” simulating an air conditioning system and a food storage, respectively. The experimental results enable to analyze the performance of the prototype and the physical phenomena involved. Finally, the study shows that this system could be a promising solution to help supplying freshwater to people in hot regions of the world. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Advanced Membrane Processes in Water Treatment)
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Article
Ceramic Processing of Silicon Carbide Membranes with the Aid of Aluminum Nitrate Nonahydrate: Preparation, Characterization, and Performance
Membranes 2021, 11(9), 714; https://doi.org/10.3390/membranes11090714 - 17 Sep 2021
Cited by 3 | Viewed by 1521
Abstract
The development of a low-cost and environmentally-friendly procedure for the fabrication of silicon carbide (SiC) membranes while achieving good membrane performance is an important goal, but still a big challenge. To address this challenge, herein, a colloidal coating suspension of sub-micron SiC powders [...] Read more.
The development of a low-cost and environmentally-friendly procedure for the fabrication of silicon carbide (SiC) membranes while achieving good membrane performance is an important goal, but still a big challenge. To address this challenge, herein, a colloidal coating suspension of sub-micron SiC powders was prepared in aqueous media by employing aluminum nitrate nonahydrate as a sintering additive and was used for the deposition of a novel SiC membrane layer onto a SiC tubular support by dip-coating. The sintering temperature influence on the structural morphology was studied. Adding aluminum nitrate nonahydrate reduced the sintering temperature of the as-prepared membrane compared to conventional SiC membrane synthesis. Surface morphology, pore size distribution, crystalline structure, and chemical and mechanical stability of the membrane were characterized. The membrane showed excellent corrosion resistance in acidic and basic medium for 30 days with no significant changes in membrane properties. The pure water permeance of the membrane was measured as 2252 L h−1 m−2 bar−1. Lastly, the final membrane with 0.35 µm mean pore size showed high removal of oil droplets (99.7%) in emulsified oil-in-water with outstanding permeability. Hence, the new SiC membrane is promising for several industrial applications in the field of wastewater treatment. Full article
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Sustainable Membrane-Based Wastewater Reclamation Employing CO2 to Impede an Ionic Precipitation and Consequent Scale Progression onto the Membrane Surfaces
Membranes 2021, 11(9), 688; https://doi.org/10.3390/membranes11090688 - 06 Sep 2021
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 1483
Abstract
CO2 capture and utilization (CCU) is a promising approach in controlling the global discharge of greenhouse gases (GHG). This study details the experimental investigation of CO2 utilization in membrane-based water treatment systems for lowering the potential of ionic precipitation on membrane [...] Read more.
CO2 capture and utilization (CCU) is a promising approach in controlling the global discharge of greenhouse gases (GHG). This study details the experimental investigation of CO2 utilization in membrane-based water treatment systems for lowering the potential of ionic precipitation on membrane surface and subsequent scale development. The CO2 utilization in feed water reduces the water pH that enables the dissociation of salts in their respective ions, which leave the system as a concentrate. This study compares the efficiency of CO2 and other antifouling agents (CA-1, CA-2, and CA-3) for fouling control in four different membrane-based wastewater reclamation operations. These systems include Schemes 1, 2, 3, and 4, which were operated with CA-1, CA-2, CA-3, and CO2 as antiscalants, respectively. The flux profile and percent salt rejection achieved in Scheme 4 confirmed the higher efficiency of CO2 utilization compared with other antifouling agents. This proficient role of CO2 in fouling inhibition is further endorsed by the surface analysis of used membranes. The SEM, EDS, and XRD examination confirmed the higher suitability of CO2 utilization in controlling scale deposition compared with other antiscalants. The cost estimation also supported the CO2 utilization for environmental friendly and safe operation. Full article
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Article
CeO2-Blended Cellulose Triacetate Mixed-Matrix Membranes for Selective CO2 Separation
Membranes 2021, 11(8), 632; https://doi.org/10.3390/membranes11080632 - 17 Aug 2021
Cited by 5 | Viewed by 1202
Abstract
Due to the high affinity of ceria (CeO2) towards carbon dioxide (CO2) and the high thermal and mechanical properties of cellulose triacetate (CTA) polymer, mixed-matrix CTA-CeO2 membranes were fabricated. A facile solution-casting method was used for the fabrication [...] Read more.
Due to the high affinity of ceria (CeO2) towards carbon dioxide (CO2) and the high thermal and mechanical properties of cellulose triacetate (CTA) polymer, mixed-matrix CTA-CeO2 membranes were fabricated. A facile solution-casting method was used for the fabrication process. CeO2 nanoparticles at concentrations of 0.32, 0.64 and 0.9 wt.% were incorporated into the CTA matrix. The physico-chemical properties of the membranes were evaluated by SEM-EDS, XRD, FTIR, TGA, DSC and strain-stress analysis. Gas sorption and permeation affinity were evaluated using different single gases. The CTA-CeO2 (0.64) membrane matrix showed a high affinity towards CO2 sorption. Almost complete saturation of CeO2 nanoparticles with CO2 was observed, even at low pressure. Embedding CeO2 nanoparticles led to increased gas permeability compared to pristine CTA. The highest gas permeabilities were achieved with 0.64 wt.%, with a threefold increase in CO2 permeability as compared to pristine CTA membranes. Unwanted aggregation of the filler nanoparticles was observed at a 0.9 wt.% concentration of CeO2 and was reflected in decreased gas permeability compared to lower filler loadings with homogenous filler distributions. The determined gas selectivity was in the order CO2/CH4 > CO2/N2 > O2/N2 > H2/CO2 and suggests the potential of CTA-CeO2 membranes for CO2 separation in flue/biogas applications. Full article
(This article belongs to the Section Polymeric Membranes)
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Article
Correlations between Properties of Pore-Filling Ion Exchange Membranes and Performance of a Reverse Electrodialysis Stack for High Power Density
Membranes 2021, 11(8), 609; https://doi.org/10.3390/membranes11080609 - 10 Aug 2021
Cited by 4 | Viewed by 1182
Abstract
The reverse electrodialysis (RED) stack-harnessing salinity gradient power mainly consists of ion exchange membranes (IEMs). Among the various types of IEMs used in RED stacks, pore-filling ion exchange membranes (PIEMs) have been considered promising IEMs to improve the power density of RED stacks. [...] Read more.
The reverse electrodialysis (RED) stack-harnessing salinity gradient power mainly consists of ion exchange membranes (IEMs). Among the various types of IEMs used in RED stacks, pore-filling ion exchange membranes (PIEMs) have been considered promising IEMs to improve the power density of RED stacks. The compositions of PIEMs affect the electrical resistance and permselectivity of PIEMs; however, their effect on the performance of large RED stacks have not yet been considered. In this study, PIEMs of various compositions with respect to the RED stack were adopted to evaluate the performance of the RED stack according to stack size (electrode area: 5 × 5 cm2 vs. 15 × 15 cm2). By increasing the stack size, the gross power per membrane area decreased despite the increase in gross power on a single RED stack. The electrical resistance of the PIEMs was the most important factor for enhancing the power production of the RED stack. Moreover, power production was less sensitive to permselectivities over 90%. By increasing the RED stack size, the contributions of non-ohmic resistances were significantly increased. Thus, we determined that reducing the salinity gradients across PIEMs by ion transport increased the non-ohmic resistance of large RED stacks. These results will aid in designing pilot-scale RED stacks. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Recent Advances in the Membranes for Reverse Electrodialysis)
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Article
Human Mesenchymal Stem Cells Seeded on the Natural Membrane to Neurospheres for Cholinergic-like Neurons
Membranes 2021, 11(8), 598; https://doi.org/10.3390/membranes11080598 - 07 Aug 2021
Cited by 2 | Viewed by 1279
Abstract
This study aimed to differentiate human mesenchymal stem cells (hMSCs) from the human umbilical cord in cholinergic-like neurons using a natural membrane. The isolation of hMSCs from Wharton’s jelly (WJ) was carried out using “explant” and mononuclear cells by the density gradient from [...] Read more.
This study aimed to differentiate human mesenchymal stem cells (hMSCs) from the human umbilical cord in cholinergic-like neurons using a natural membrane. The isolation of hMSCs from Wharton’s jelly (WJ) was carried out using “explant” and mononuclear cells by the density gradient from umbilical blood and characterized by flow cytometry. hMSCs were seeded in a natural functional biopolymer membrane to produce neurospheres. RT-PCR was performed on hMSCs and neurospheres derived from the umbilical cord. Neural precursor cells were subjected to a standard cholinergic-like neuron differentiation protocol. Dissociated neurospheres, neural precursor cells, and cholinergic-like neurons were characterized by immunocytochemistry. hMSCs were CD73+, CD90+, CD105+, CD34- and CD45- and demonstrated the trilineage differentiation. Neurospheres and their isolated cells were nestin-positive and expressed NESTIN, MAP2, ßIII-TUBULIN, GFAP genes. Neural precursor cells that were differentiated in cholinergic-like neurons expressed ßIII-TUBULIN protein and choline acetyltransferase enzyme. hMSCs seeded on the natural membrane can differentiate into neurospheres, obtaining neural precursor cells without growth factors or gene transfection before cholinergic phenotype differentiation. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Membrane Systems for Biomedical Engineering)
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Article
Synthesis and Characterization of Titanium Dioxide Hollow Nanofiber for Photocatalytic Degradation of Methylene Blue Dye
Membranes 2021, 11(8), 581; https://doi.org/10.3390/membranes11080581 - 30 Jul 2021
Cited by 5 | Viewed by 1296
Abstract
Environmental crisis and water contamination have led to worldwide exploration for advanced technologies for wastewater treatment, and one of them is photocatalytic degradation. A one-dimensional hollow nanofiber with enhanced photocatalytic properties is considered a promising material to be applied in the field. Therefore, [...] Read more.
Environmental crisis and water contamination have led to worldwide exploration for advanced technologies for wastewater treatment, and one of them is photocatalytic degradation. A one-dimensional hollow nanofiber with enhanced photocatalytic properties is considered a promising material to be applied in the field. Therefore, we synthesized titanium dioxide hollow nanofibers (THNF) with extended surface area, light-harvesting properties and an anatase–rutile heterojunction via a template synthesis method and followed by a calcination process. The effect of calcination temperature on the formation and properties of THNF were determined and the possible mechanism of THNF formation was proposed. THNF nanofibers produced at 600 °C consisted of a mixture of 24.2% anatase and 75.8% rutile, with a specific surface area of 81.2776 m2/g. The hollow nanofibers also outperformed the other catalysts in terms of photocatalytic degradation of MB dye, at 85.5%. The optimum catalyst loading, dye concentration, pH, and H2O2 concentration were determined at 0.75 g/L, 10 ppm, pH 11, and 10 mM, respectively. The highest degradation of methylene blue dye achieved was 95.2% after 4 h of UV irradiation. Full article
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Article
Application and Analysis of Bipolar Membrane Electrodialysis for LiOH Production at High Electrolyte Concentrations: Current Scope and Challenges
Membranes 2021, 11(8), 575; https://doi.org/10.3390/membranes11080575 - 29 Jul 2021
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 1367
Abstract
The objective of this work was to evaluate obtaining LiOH directly from brines with high LiCl concentrations using bipolar membrane electrodialysis by the analysis of Li+ ion transport phenomena. For this purpose, Neosepta BP and Fumasep FBM bipolar membranes were characterized by [...] Read more.
The objective of this work was to evaluate obtaining LiOH directly from brines with high LiCl concentrations using bipolar membrane electrodialysis by the analysis of Li+ ion transport phenomena. For this purpose, Neosepta BP and Fumasep FBM bipolar membranes were characterized by linear sweep voltammetry, and the Li+ transport number in cation-exchange membranes was determined. In addition, a laboratory-scale reactor was designed, constructed, and tested to develop experimental LiOH production tests. The selected LiCl concentration range, based on productive process concentrations for Salar de Atacama (Chile), was between 14 and 34 wt%. Concentration and current density effects on LiOH production, current efficiency, and specific electricity consumption were evaluated. The highest current efficiency obtained was 0.77 at initial concentrations of LiOH 0.5 wt% and LiCl 14 wt%. On the other hand, a concentrated LiOH solution (between 3.34 wt% and 4.35 wt%, with a solution purity between 96.0% and 95.4%, respectively) was obtained. The results of this work show the feasibility of LiOH production from concentrated brines by means of bipolar membrane electrodialysis, bringing the implementation of this technology closer to LiOH production on a larger scale. Moreover, being an electrochemical process, this could be driven by Solar PV, taking advantage of the high solar radiation conditions in the Atacama Desert in Chile. Full article
(This article belongs to the Topic Electromaterials for Environment & Energy)
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Article
Characterization of Dimeric Vanadium Uptake and Species in Nafion™ and Novel Membranes from Vanadium Redox Flow Batteries Electrolytes
Membranes 2021, 11(8), 576; https://doi.org/10.3390/membranes11080576 - 29 Jul 2021
Cited by 2 | Viewed by 1473
Abstract
A core component of energy storage systems like vanadium redox flow batteries (VRFB) is the polymer electrolyte membrane (PEM). In this work, the frequently used perfluorosulfonic-acid (PFSA) membrane Nafion™ 117 and a novel poly (vinylidene difluoride) (PVDF)-based membrane are investigated. A well-known problem [...] Read more.
A core component of energy storage systems like vanadium redox flow batteries (VRFB) is the polymer electrolyte membrane (PEM). In this work, the frequently used perfluorosulfonic-acid (PFSA) membrane Nafion™ 117 and a novel poly (vinylidene difluoride) (PVDF)-based membrane are investigated. A well-known problem in VRFBs is the vanadium permeation through the membrane. The consequence of this so-called vanadium crossover is a severe loss of capacity. For a better understanding of vanadium transport in membranes, the uptake of vanadium ions from electrolytes containing Vdimer(IV–V) and for comparison also V(II), V(III), V(IV), and V(V) by both membranes was studied. UV/VIS spectroscopy, X-ray absorption near edge structure spectroscopy (XANES), total reflection X-ray fluorescence spectroscopy (TXRF), inductively coupled plasma optical emission spectrometry (ICP-OES), and micro X-ray fluorescence spectroscopy (microXRF) were used to determine the vanadium concentrations and the species inside the membrane. The results strongly support that Vdimer(IV–V), a dimer formed from V(IV) and V(V), enters the nanoscopic water-body of Nafion™ 117 as such. This is interesting, because as of now, only the individual ions V(IV) and V(V) were considered to be transported through the membrane. Additionally, it was found that the Vdimer(IV–V) dimer partly dissociates to the individual ions in the novel PVDF-based membrane. The Vdimer(IV–V) dimer concentration in Nafion™ was determined and compared to those of the other species. After three days of equilibration time, the concentration of the dimer is the lowest compared to the monomeric vanadium species. The concentration of vanadium in terms of the relative uptake λ = n(V)/n(SO3) are as follows: V(II) [λ = 0.155] > V(III) [λ = 0.137] > V(IV) [λ = 0.124] > V(V) [λ = 0.053] > Vdimer(IV–V) [λ = 0.039]. The results show that the Vdimer(IV–V) dimer needs to be considered in addition to the other monomeric species to properly describe the transport of vanadium through Nafion™ in VRFBs. Full article
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Article
Recovery of Valuable Solutes from Organic Solvent/Water Mixtures via Direct Contact Membrane Distillation (DCMD) as a Non-Heated Process
Membranes 2021, 11(8), 559; https://doi.org/10.3390/membranes11080559 - 23 Jul 2021
Cited by 2 | Viewed by 1813
Abstract
Recently, the demand for the recovery of valuable solutes from organic solvents/water mixtures has increased in various fields. Furthermore, due to the abundance of heat-sensitive valuable solutes, the demand for non-heated concentration technologies has increased. In this study, the direct contact membrane distillation [...] Read more.
Recently, the demand for the recovery of valuable solutes from organic solvents/water mixtures has increased in various fields. Furthermore, due to the abundance of heat-sensitive valuable solutes, the demand for non-heated concentration technologies has increased. In this study, the direct contact membrane distillation (DCMD) using hydrophobic polyvinylidene difluoride (PVDF) hollow fiber membranes was investigated to confirm the possibility of recovering valuable solutes from organic solvents/water mixtures as a non-heated process. The DCMD with 1000 ppm NaCl aqueous solution achieved 0.8 kg/m2·h of vapor flux and >99.9% of NaCl retention, even at feed and coolant temperatures of 25 and 10 °C, respectively. Furthermore, when DCMD was conducted under various conditions, including feed temperatures of 25, 35 and 45 °C, and organic solvent concentration of 15, 30 and 50 wt%, using ethanol/water and acetonitrile/water mixtures containing 1000 ppm NaCl. A surfactant was also used as a valuable solute, in addition to NaCl. As a result, it was found that the total vapor flux increased with increasing temperature and concentration of organic solvents, as the partial vapor pressure of the organic solvents increased. Additionally, no solute leaked under any condition, even when the surfactant was used as a valuable solute. Full article
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Article
Membrane Fouling Controlled by Adjustment of Biological Treatment Parameters in Step-Aerating MBR
Membranes 2021, 11(8), 553; https://doi.org/10.3390/membranes11080553 - 22 Jul 2021
Cited by 3 | Viewed by 1193
Abstract
A promising solution for membrane fouling reduction in membrane bioreactors (MBRs) could be the adjustment of operating parameters of the MBR, such as hydraulic retention time (HRT), food/microorganisms (F/M) loading and dissolved oxygen (DO) concentration, aiming to modify the sludge morphology to the [...] Read more.
A promising solution for membrane fouling reduction in membrane bioreactors (MBRs) could be the adjustment of operating parameters of the MBR, such as hydraulic retention time (HRT), food/microorganisms (F/M) loading and dissolved oxygen (DO) concentration, aiming to modify the sludge morphology to the direction of improvement of the membrane filtration. In this work, these parameters were investigated in a step-aerating pilot MBR that treated municipal wastewater, in order to control the filamentous population. When F/M loading in the first aeration tank (AT1) was ≤0.65 ± 0.2 g COD/g MLSS/d at 20 ± 3 °C, DO = 2.5 ± 0.1 mg/L and HRT = 1.6 h, the filamentous bacteria were controlled effectively at a moderate filament index of 1.5–3. The moderate population of filamentous bacteria improved the membrane performance, leading to low transmembrane pressure (TMP) at values ≤ 2 kPa for a great period, while at the control MBR the TMP gradually increased reaching 14 kPa. Soluble microbial products (SMP), were also maintained at low concentrations, contributing additionally to the reduction of ΤΜP. Finally, the step-aerating MBR process and the selected imposed operating conditions of HRT, F/M and DO improved the MBR performance in terms of fouling control, facilitating its future wider application. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Advanced Research on Membrane Bioreactors 2021–2022)
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Article
Electron Microscopic Confirmation of Anisotropic Pore Characteristics for ECMO Membranes Theoretically Validating the Risk of SARS-CoV-2 Permeation
Membranes 2021, 11(7), 529; https://doi.org/10.3390/membranes11070529 - 14 Jul 2021
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 2082
Abstract
The objective of this study is to clarify the pore structure of ECMO membranes by using our approach and theoretically validate the risk of SARS-CoV-2 permeation. There has not been any direct evidence for SARS-CoV-2 leakage through the membrane in ECMO support for [...] Read more.
The objective of this study is to clarify the pore structure of ECMO membranes by using our approach and theoretically validate the risk of SARS-CoV-2 permeation. There has not been any direct evidence for SARS-CoV-2 leakage through the membrane in ECMO support for critically ill COVID-19 patients. The precise pore structure of recent membranes was elucidated by direct microscopic observation for the first time. The three types of membranes, polypropylene, polypropylene coated with thin silicone layer, and polymethylpentene (PMP), have unique pore structures, and the pore structures on the inner and outer surfaces of the membranes are completely different anisotropic structures. From these data, the partition coefficients and intramembrane diffusion coefficients of SARS-CoV-2 were quantified using the membrane transport model. Therefore, SARS-CoV-2 may permeate the membrane wall with the plasma filtration flow or wet lung. The risk of SARS-CoV-2 permeation is completely different due to each anisotropic pore structure. We theoretically demonstrate that SARS-CoV-2 is highly likely to permeate the membrane transporting from the patient’s blood to the gas side, and may diffuse from the gas side outlet port of ECMO leading to the extra-circulatory spread of the SARS-CoV-2 (ECMO infection). Development of a new generation of nanoscale membrane confirmation is proposed for next-generation extracorporeal membrane oxygenator and system with long-term durability is envisaged. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Membranes in Biomedical Engineering: Assisting Clinical Engineers)
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Article
Simulation on Pore Formation from Polymer Solution at Surface in Contact with Solid Substrate via Thermally Induced Phase Separation
Membranes 2021, 11(7), 527; https://doi.org/10.3390/membranes11070527 - 13 Jul 2021
Cited by 2 | Viewed by 1195
Abstract
The formation of porous structures from polymer solutions at the surface in contact with various solid surfaces via a thermally-induced phase separation (TIPS) process is investigated. The pore formation process at the bulk and the surface of the poly(methyl methacrylate)/cyclohexanol solution is simulated [...] Read more.
The formation of porous structures from polymer solutions at the surface in contact with various solid surfaces via a thermally-induced phase separation (TIPS) process is investigated. The pore formation process at the bulk and the surface of the poly(methyl methacrylate)/cyclohexanol solution is simulated with a model based on the phase field method. When the compatibilities between the polymer-rich phase formed by the phase separation and the solid surface are high or low, surface porosity decreases. In contrast, for the solid surface having similar compatibilities with the polymer and solvent, high surface porosity is achieved. This indicates that the compatibility between the solid surface and polymer solution is important, and that optimal compatibility results in high surface porosity. The knowledge obtained in this work is useful to design the coagulation bath component in the membrane preparation process by TIPS for achieving high surface porosity. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue State-of-the-Art Membrane Science and Technology in Japan 2021, 2022)
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Article
COMTOP: Protein Residue–Residue Contact Prediction through Mixed Integer Linear Optimization
Membranes 2021, 11(7), 503; https://doi.org/10.3390/membranes11070503 - 30 Jun 2021
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 1678
Abstract
Protein contact prediction helps reconstruct the tertiary structure that greatly determines a protein’s function; therefore, contact prediction from the sequence is an important problem. Recently there has been exciting progress on this problem, but many of the existing methods are still low quality [...] Read more.
Protein contact prediction helps reconstruct the tertiary structure that greatly determines a protein’s function; therefore, contact prediction from the sequence is an important problem. Recently there has been exciting progress on this problem, but many of the existing methods are still low quality of prediction accuracy. In this paper, we present a new mixed integer linear programming (MILP)-based consensus method: a Consensus scheme based On a Mixed integer linear opTimization method for prOtein contact Prediction (COMTOP). The MILP-based consensus method combines the strengths of seven selected protein contact prediction methods, including CCMpred, EVfold, DeepCov, NNcon, PconsC4, plmDCA, and PSICOV, by optimizing the number of correctly predicted contacts and achieving a better prediction accuracy. The proposed hybrid protein residue–residue contact prediction scheme was tested in four independent test sets. For 239 highly non-redundant proteins, the method showed a prediction accuracy of 59.68%, 70.79%, 78.86%, 89.04%, 94.51%, and 97.35% for top-5L, top-3L, top-2L, top-L, top-L/2, and top-L/5 contacts, respectively. When tested on the CASP13 and CASP14 test sets, the proposed method obtained accuracies of 75.91% and 77.49% for top-L/5 predictions, respectively. COMTOP was further tested on 57 non-redundant α-helical transmembrane proteins and achieved prediction accuracies of 64.34% and 73.91% for top-L/2 and top-L/5 predictions, respectively. For all test datasets, the improvement of COMTOP in accuracy over the seven individual methods increased with the increasing number of predicted contacts. For example, COMTOP performed much better for large number of contact predictions (such as top-5L and top-3L) than for small number of contact predictions such as top-L/2 and top-L/5. The results and analysis demonstrate that COMTOP can significantly improve the performance of the individual methods; therefore, COMTOP is more robust against different types of test sets. COMTOP also showed better/comparable predictions when compared with the state-of-the-art predictors. Full article
(This article belongs to the Collection Membrane Protein Structure and Functions)
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Article
Enhanced Performance of Carbon Molecular Sieve Membranes Incorporating Zeolite Nanocrystals for Air Separation
Membranes 2021, 11(7), 489; https://doi.org/10.3390/membranes11070489 - 29 Jun 2021
Cited by 6 | Viewed by 1432
Abstract
Three different zeolite nanocrystals (SAPO-34, PS-MFI and ETS-10) were incorporated into the polymer matrix (Matrimid® 5218) as polymer precursors, with the aim of fabricating mixed-matrix carbon molecular sieve membranes (CMSMs). These membranes are investigated for their potential for air separation process. Based [...] Read more.
Three different zeolite nanocrystals (SAPO-34, PS-MFI and ETS-10) were incorporated into the polymer matrix (Matrimid® 5218) as polymer precursors, with the aim of fabricating mixed-matrix carbon molecular sieve membranes (CMSMs). These membranes are investigated for their potential for air separation process. Based on our gas permeation results, incorporating porous materials is feasible to improve O2 permeability, owing to the creation of additional porosities in the resulting mixed-matrix CMSMs. Owing to this, the performance of the CMSM with 30 wt% PS-MFI loading is able to surpass the upper bound limit. This study demonstrates the feasibility of zeolite nanocrystals in improving O2/N2 separation performance in CMSMs. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Emerging Materials for Mixed-Matrix Membranes)
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Article
Green Synthesized of Ag/Ag2O Nanoparticles Using Aqueous Leaves Extracts of Phoenix dactylifera L. and Their Azo Dye Photodegradation
Membranes 2021, 11(7), 468; https://doi.org/10.3390/membranes11070468 - 25 Jun 2021
Cited by 21 | Viewed by 2047
Abstract
In this study, silver/silver oxide nanoparticles (Ag/Ag2O NPs) were successfully biosynthesized using Phoenix dactylifera L. aqueous leaves extract. The effect of different plant extract/precursor contractions (volume ratio, v/v%) on Ag/Ag2O NP formation, their optical properties, and [...] Read more.
In this study, silver/silver oxide nanoparticles (Ag/Ag2O NPs) were successfully biosynthesized using Phoenix dactylifera L. aqueous leaves extract. The effect of different plant extract/precursor contractions (volume ratio, v/v%) on Ag/Ag2O NP formation, their optical properties, and photocatalytic activity towards azo dye degradation, i.e., Congo red (CR) and methylene blue (MB), were investigated. X-ray diffraction confirmed the crystalline nature of Ag/Ag2O NPs with a crystallite size range from 28 to 39 nm. Scanning electron microscope images showed that the Ag/Ag2O NPs have an oval and spherical shape. UV–vis spectroscopy showed that Ag/Ag2O NPs have a direct bandgap of 2.07–2.86 eV and an indirect bandgap of 1.60–1.76 eV. Fourier transform infrared analysis suggests that the synthesized Ag/Ag2O NPs might be stabilized through the interactions of -OH and C=O groups in the carbohydrates, flavonoids, tannins, and phenolic acids present in Phoenix dactylifera L. Interestingly, the prepared Ag/Ag2O NPs showed high catalytic degradation activity for CR dye. The photocatalytic degradation of the azo dye was monitored spectrophotometrically in a wavelength range of 250–900 nm, and a high decolorization efficiency (84.50%) was obtained after 50 min of reaction. As a result, the use of Phoenix dactylifera L. aqueous leaves extract offers a cost-effective and eco-friendly method. Full article
(This article belongs to the Collection Polymeric Membranes: Science, Materials and Applications)
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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
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 2512
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)
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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
Cited by 2 | Viewed by 1510
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
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