An investigation of low biofouling copper-charged membranes for desalination

Sunitha Asapu, Santosh Pant, Cyndee L. Gruden, Isabel C. Escobar

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

15 Scopus citations


The goal of this project was to develop low-biofouling membranes through the functionalization of cellulose acetate (CA) membranes with metal chelating ligands charged with biocidal metal ions, i.e. copper ions. To this end, glycidyl methacrylate (GMA),. 11GMA-glycidyl methacrylate. an epoxy, was used to attach a chelating agent, iminodiacetic acid (IDA),. 22IDA-iminodiacetic acid. to facilitate the charging of copper to the membrane surface. CA and copper charged membranes were characterized chemically and structurally. The permeation experiments were conducted with DI water and then subjected to protein rejection measurements. The permeation of the copper-charged membranes was initially lower than the cellulose acetate membrane during the filtration of DI water. The membranes were then subjected to bovine serum albumin (BSA) and lipase filtration. The copper charged membrane showed higher permeation values of both proteins as compared to CA membranes. This resulted from an increased resistance from the IDA and copper on the surface during DI water filtration, and later, from reduced fouling from both proteins. The rejection of BSA and lipase was the same for both the copper charged and CA membranes. Therefore, the modified membranes have a potential to be used as low-biofouling membranes in the future.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)17-25
Number of pages9
Issue number1
StatePublished - Apr 1 2014

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
We are obliged to the United States Bureau of Reclamation (agreement # R11 AC 81 536 ) for funding this project, as well as intern students Christopher Michael Dremann and Katherine Marie Smarkel.


  • Biofouling
  • Cellulose acetate
  • Copper
  • Nanofiltration
  • Surface functionalization

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Chemistry (all)
  • Chemical Engineering (all)
  • Materials Science (all)
  • Water Science and Technology
  • Mechanical Engineering


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