Preparation and water desalination properties of POSS-polyamide nanocomposite reverse osmosis membranes

Jintang Duan, Eric Litwiller, Ingo Pinnau

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

108 Scopus citations


The application of nanotechnology to thin-film nanocomposites (TFN) is a new route to enhance membrane performance in water desalination. Here, the potential of polyhedral oligomeric silsesquioxane (POSS) as the nanofiller in polyamide (PA) reverse osmosis membranes was systematically investigated. Four POSS materials (P-8Phenyl, P-8NH3Cl, P-8NH2 and P-1NH2) were introduced into the selective layer by physical blending or chemical fixation during standard interfacial polymerization. Water flux and NaCl rejection were measured with 2000ppm NaCl solution under 15.5bar pressure, and SEM and TEM images of membrane selective layers were obtained. Membranes prepared without POSS showed water flux of 20.0±0.5L/m2·h and salt rejection of 98.0±0.2%. TFN membranes prepared with 0.4% (w/v) P-8Phenyl in the organic phase showed a 65% increase in water flux compared to the pristine PA membrane while maintaining high salt rejection. The selective layer of this membrane maintained the typical ridge-and-valley structure of aromatic PA. Results with P-8NH3Cl and P-8NH2 added to the organic phase were similar. TFN membranes prepared with monoamine P-1NH2 in the organic phase had poor water flux of 3.2L/m2·h, a smooth and more hydrophobic surface, and a much thicker (~400nm) selective layer. One of the four POSS compounds studied, P-8NH3Cl, is sufficiently soluble in water for incorporation into the selective layer via the aqueous phase. Membranes were prepared with P-8NH3Cl in the aqueous phase at varying reaction time, loading, and additive (triethylamine) concentration. With these parameters optimized, water flux increased to 35.4L/m2·h.
Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)157-164
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of Membrane Science
StatePublished - Jan 2015

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry
  • Filtration and Separation
  • General Materials Science
  • Physical and Theoretical Chemistry


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