Tuning the nanofiltration performance of thin film strong polyelectrolyte hydrogel composite membranes by photo-grafting conditions

Roy Bernstein, Enrique Antón, Mathias Ulbricht

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

25 Scopus citations


Polyethersulfone ultrafiltration membranes were converted into charged nanofiltration membranes having a strong polyelectrolyte hydrogel as selective barrier layer through the UV-photo initiated graft polymerization technique. This was accomplished by using vinyl sulfonic acid as the functional monomer and N,N'-methylenbisacrylamide as a cross linker monomer (Bernstein et al., ACS Applied Materials & Interfaces, 4 (2012) 3438-3446). In this research the resulting composite membranes were further characterized using different methods (ATR-FTIR spectroscopy, zeta potential, contact angle, scanning electron microscopy). ATR-FTIR data were used to quantify the degree of grafting. The composite membranes' zeta potential was negative throughout the pH range and as high as -70. mV. The hydrogel composite membranes were also very hydrophilic with a contact angle of 11°. The membrane performance-salt rejection and water permeability-obtained at varied functionalization conditions-molecular weight cut-off of the base membrane, monomer concentration, cross linker fraction, UV irradiation intensity and time-was systematically investigated and the results were correlated to the membrane characterization data. Separation performance was also tested using mixed salt solutions. Larger composite membrane samples were prepared and long-term stability of nanofiltration (NF) performance was evaluated in cross-flow experiments. The performance of the best of the newly fabricated composite membranes was comparable to other polyelectrolyte-based NF membranes as well as to some commercial NF membranes presented in the literature.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)129-138
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of Membrane Science
StatePublished - 5 Jan 2013
Externally publishedYes


  • Membrane modification
  • Nanofiltration membrane
  • Polyelectrolyte hydrogel
  • UV-photo polymerization

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry
  • Materials Science (all)
  • Physical and Theoretical Chemistry
  • Filtration and Separation


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