Investigation of the use of a bio-derived solvent for non-solvent-induced phase separation (NIPS) fabrication of polysulfone membranes

Xiaobo Dong, Amna Al-Jumaily, Isabel C. Escobar

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

81 Scopus citations


Organic solvents, such as N-methyl-2-pyrrolidone (NMP) and dimethylacetamide (DMAc), have been traditionally used to fabricate polymeric membranes. These solvents may have a negative impact on the environment and human health; therefore, using renewable solvents derived from biomass is of great interest to make membrane fabrication sustainable. Methyl-5-(dimethylamino)-2-methyl-5-oxopentanoate (Rhodiasolv PolarClean) is a bio-derived, biodegradable, nonflammable and nonvolatile solvent. Polysulfone is a commonly used polymer to fabricate membranes due to its thermal stability, strong mechanical strength and good chemical resistance. From cloud point curves, PolarClean showed potential to be a solvent for polysulfone. Membranes prepared with PolarClean were investigated in terms of their morphology, porosity, water permeability and protein rejection, and were compared to membranes prepared with traditional solvents. The pores of polysulfone/PolarClean membranes were sponge-like, and the membranes displayed higher water flux values (176.0 ± 8.8 LMH) along with slightly higher solute rejection (99.0 ± 0.51%). On the other hand, PSf/DMAc membrane pores were finger-like with lower water flux (63.1 ± 12.4 LMH) and slightly lower solute rejection (96 ± 2.00%) when compared to PSf/PolarClean membranes.

Original languageEnglish
Article number23
Issue number2
StatePublished - Jun 2018

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
Acknowledgments: The authors want to acknowledge that this work was supported by the National Science Foundation under Cooperative Agreement (grant number 1355438), and by the NSF KY EPSCoR Program. The authors also want to acknowledge Solvay Novecare for providing PolarClean.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2018 by the authors.


  • Bio-derived solvent
  • Membrane synthesis
  • Non-solvent induced phase separation

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Chemical Engineering (miscellaneous)
  • Process Chemistry and Technology
  • Filtration and Separation


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