Physical–chemical properties, separation performance, and fouling resistance of mixed-matrix ultrafiltration membranes


Hoek, Eric M.V.
Ghosh, Asim K.
Huang, Xiaofei
Liong, Monty
Zink, Jeffrey I.

KAUST Grant Number


Herein we report on the formation and characterization of mixed-matrix ultrafiltration (UF) membranes hand-cast by nonsolvent induced phase inversion. We evaluated nanometer-to-micrometer sized inorganic fillers (silver, copper, silica, zeolite, and silver-zeolite) materials with polysulfone (PSf) as the polymeric dispersing matrix. In general, mixed-matrix membranes were rougher, more hydrophilic, and more mechanically robust. Only sub-micron zeolite-PSf mixed-matrix membranes exhibited simultaneous improvements in water permeability and solute selectivity; all other mixed-matrix membranes were more permeable, but less selective due to defects associated with poor polymer-filler binding. Protein and bacterial fouling resistance of mixed-matrix membranes containing silver, zeolite, and silver-zeolite nanoparticles were compared to a low-fouling, poly(acrylonitrile) (PAN) UF membrane. Zeolite and silver containing membranes exhibited better protein fouling resistance (due to higher hydrophilicity), whereas silver and silver-zeolite based membranes produce better bacterial fouling resistance due to antimicrobial properties. Overall, zeolite-PSf and silver exchanged zeolite-PSf membranes offered the best combination of improved permeability, selectivity, and fouling resistance - superior to the commercial PAN membrane. © 2011 Elsevier B.V.

Hoek EMV, Ghosh AK, Huang X, Liong M, Zink JI (2011) Physical–chemical properties, separation performance, and fouling resistance of mixed-matrix ultrafiltration membranes. Desalination 283: 89–99. Available:

This publication is based on work supported in part by Award No. KUS-C1-018-02, made by King Abdullah University of Science and Technology (KAUST), in addition to the UCLA California NanoSystems Institute (CNSI), QuantumSphere Inc., and NanoH2O Inc. The authors wish to express their appreciation to Prof. Ajit Mal and Shri Harsh K. Vaid in the Department of Mechanical & Aerospace Engineering at UCLA for providing access to the Instron (R) mechanical testing instrument, as well as Dr. Chi Min Ho (UCLA Mechanical & Aerospace Engineering Department) for providing access to the AFM. The authors also thank Dr. Stephen Kloos at GE Water Technologies for supplying PAN membrane samples.

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