Thin-film nanocomposite membranes for efficient removal of emerging pharmaceutical organic contaminants from water.

Asif Matin, Nadeem Baig, Deepak Anand, Irshad Ahmad, Muhammad Sajid, Muhammad Saqib Nawaz

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Membranes are receiving significant attention to remove emerging organic micropollutants (OMPs) from wastewater and natural water sources. Herein, we report the facile preparation of a novel thin-film nanocomposite (TFN) membrane with high permeability and efficient removal of OMPs. ZnO nanoparticles were first synthesized using the co-precipitation method and functionalized with N1-(3-Trimethoxysilylpropyl)diethylenetriamine to make the surface rich with amine groups and then synthesized nanomaterials were covalently cross-linked into the active layer during the interfacial polymerization (IP) process. The performance of the membranes containing the cross-linked ZnO was significantly better than the non-cross-linked ZnO NPs containing membranes. Adding multiple hydrophilic groups and entities on the surface significantly decreased the contact angle (from ∼60° to 20°). SEM images confirmed the uniform presence and homogeneous distribution of the functionalized NPs throughout the entire membrane surface. Zeta potential measurements showed the modified membranes have a lower negative charge than the pristine membranes. Filtration studies revealed a significant increase in permeability ascribed to the creation of nanochannels in the membrane's active layer. The modified membranes outperformed commercial NF membranes in removing four common OMPs with rejection efficiencies of ∼30%, 64%, 60%, and 70% for Sulfamethoxazole, Amitriptyline, Omeprazole, and Loperamide HCl, respectively. The higher removal efficiency was attributed to the weakened hydrophobic interactions due to the presence of hydrophilic moieties and a stronger size exclusion effect. Moreover, the modified membranes showed high resistance to bacterial adhesion in static conditions.
Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)116905
JournalEnvironmental Research
StatePublished - Aug 18 2023

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry
  • Environmental Science(all)


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