A green membrane functionalization method to decrease natural organic matter fouling

Tilak Gullinkala, Isabel Escobar

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

28 Scopus citations


Cellulose acetate (CA) ultrafiltration membranes were functionalized using a green chemistry approach. In the functionalization, an enzyme, Porcine pancreatic crude type II lipase (PPL), was used to polycondensate poly ethylene glycol (PEG) to the surface of the CA membranes. Modification was verified using structural and morphological analyses. The unmodified and the modified membranes displayed similar initial flux values, flux decline curves and rejection efficiencies when dextran and bovine serum albumin (BSA) were used as feed solutions. This was likely due to the high degree of hydrophilicity and similar charge characteristics between the modified and unmodified membranes. However, when natural organic matter (NOM) was filtered through the membranes, it was determined that modification led to lower cake accumulation on the surface of the modified membrane, to lower flux declines during operation, while NOM rejection remained unchanged. Furthermore, after backwashing, the modified membrane regained nearly 97% of its initial flux value within 40. min of filtration, while the unmodified membrane recovered only 85%. This improvement is possibly due to the high flexibility of the PEG chains grafted. Therefore, the use of PPL to polycondensate PEG to a CA membrane was deemed a successful functionalization process to decrease NOM fouling.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)155-164
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of Membrane Science
Issue number1-2
StatePublished - Sep 2010

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
We are grateful to the Department of Interior—US Bureau of Reclamation for financial support for this work through grant 05FC811149 . We also wish to express our sincere thanks to Dr Steven Kloos and Ms Jessica Schloss of GE water & Process Technologies for providing membranes.


  • Biocatalysis
  • Cellulose acetate
  • Enzyme
  • Surface modification
  • Ultrafiltration

ASJC Scopus subject areas

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


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