Novel charged and hydrophilized polybenzimidazole (PBI) membranes for forward osmosis

Michael F. Flanagan, Isabel C. Escobar

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

62 Scopus citations


Polybenzimidazole (PBI) is a material with excellent chemical resistance, and thermal and mechanical stabilities. However, significant drawbacks of PBI that prevent its use as a membrane for water purification applications include hydrophobicity and neutral surface charge at neutral pH values. Surface functionalization was investigated as a means to circumvent these drawbacks by modifying PBI membranes to increase hydrophilicity and surface charge. The modifying agents used for functionalization included: p-phenylene diamine, ethylene diamine, taurine, and poly(acrylamide-co-acrylic acid). Functionalized asymmetric flat sheet PBI membranes were investigated in forward osmosis (FO) applications. The FO process involved semi-permeable flat sheet membranes with an ammonium bicarbonate draw solution and a sodium chloride feed solution. The functionalized membrane surfaces exhibit increased hydrophilicity, surface charge, and reduced pore sizes. Additionally, all membrane modifications show increased water flux and a reduction in sodium chloride transport.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)85-92
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of Membrane Science
StatePublished - May 1 2013


  • Functionalization
  • Hydrophilicity
  • Membrane separation
  • Polybenzimidazole
  • Surface charge

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry
  • General Materials Science
  • Physical and Theoretical Chemistry
  • Filtration and Separation


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