In situ modification of reverse osmosis membrane elements for enhanced removal of multiple micropollutants

Katie Baransi-Karkaby, Maria Bass, Viatcheslav Freger

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

39 Scopus citations


Reverse osmosis (RO) membranes are widely used for desalination and water treatment. However, they insufficiently reject some small uncharged micropollutants, such as certain endocrine-disrupting, pharmaceutically active compounds and boric acid, increasingly present in water sources and wastewater. This study examines the feasibility of improving rejection of multiple micropollutants in commercial low-pressure RO membrane elements using concentration polarization-and surfactant-enhanced surface polymerization. Low-pressure membrane elements modified by grafting poly(glycidyl methacrylate) showed enhanced rejection of all tested solutes (model organic micropollutants, boric acid, and NaCl), with permeability somewhat reduced, but comparable with commercial brackish water RO membranes. The study demonstrates the potential and up-scalability of grafting as an in situ method for improving removal of various classes of organic and inorganic micropollutants and tuning performance in RO and other dense composite membranes for water purification.

Original languageEnglish
Article number28
Issue number2
StatePublished - 1 Feb 2019
Externally publishedYes


  • Boron removal
  • In situ membrane modification
  • Micropollutant removal
  • Reverse osmosis
  • Spiral wound elements

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Chemical Engineering (miscellaneous)
  • Process Chemistry and Technology
  • Filtration and Separation


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