Nanocomposite membranes for water separation and purification: Fabrication, modification, and applications

Milad Rabbani Esfahani, Sadegh Aghapour Aktij, Zoheir Dabaghian, Mostafa Dadashi Firouzjaei, Ahmad Rahimpour, Joyner Eke, Isabel C. Escobar, Mojtaba Abolhassani, Lauren F. Greenlee, Amirsalar R. Esfahani, Anwar Sadmani, Negin Koutahzadeh

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

308 Scopus citations


Water pollution is one of the greatest challenges around the world. Nanocomposite membranes are a promising modified version of traditional polymeric membranes for water treatment, with three main characteristics of enhanced permeation, improved rejection and reduced fouling. For novel nanocomposite membranes, there is a strong connection between the membrane fabrication method, the properties of fabricated membranes, and membrane performance. This article, first, reviews the different nanocomposite membrane fabrication and modification techniques for mixed matrix membranes and thin film membranes for both pressure driven and non-pressure driven membranes using different types of nanoparticles, carbon-based materials, and polymers. In addition, the advanced techniques for surface locating nanomaterials on different types of membranes are discussed in detail. The effects of nanoparticle physicochemical properties, type, size, and concentration on membranes intrinsic properties such as pore morphology, porosity, pore size, hydrophilicity/hydrophobicity, membrane surface charge, and roughness are discussed and the performance of nanocomposite membranes in terms of flux permeation, contaminant rejection, and anti-fouling capability are compared. Secondly, the wide range of nanocomposite membrane applications, such as desalination and removal of various contaminants in water treatment processes, are discussed. Extensive background and examples are provided to help the reader understand the fundamental connections between the fabrication methods, membrane functionality, and membrane efficiency for different water treatment processes.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)465-499
Number of pages35
JournalSeparation and Purification Technology
StatePublished - Apr 15 2019

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
The authors gratefully thank the Chemical and Biological Engineering Department of the University of Alabama and the Ralph E. Martin Department of Chemical Engineering at the University of Arkansas. We thank the Department of Chemical Engineering at the Babol Noshirvani University of Technology and the Department of Civil, Environmental and Construction Engineering at the University of Central Florida. The authors acknowledge the support by the National Science Foundation under Cooperative Agreement No.1355438 and by the NSF KY EPSCoR Program and the Department of Chemical and Materials Engineering at the University of Kentucky.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2018 Elsevier B.V.


  • Membranes
  • Mixed matrix nanocomposite membranes
  • Nanoparticles
  • Separation techniques
  • Thin film nanocomposite membranes
  • Water treatment

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Analytical Chemistry
  • Filtration and Separation


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