Mitigation of membrane fouling by nano/microplastics via surface chemistry control

Marie Enfrin, Jingshi Wang, Andrea Merenda, Ludovic F. Dumée, Judy Lee

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

31 Scopus citations


Nano/microplastic materials fouling across filtration membranes can impact the performance of filtration systems, which constitutes a critical challenge for water facilities operation. In this study, plasma surface modifications aiming at reducing nano/microplastic materials adsorption on ultrafiltration membranes were investigated. Hydrophilic acrylic acid and cyclopropylamine plasma coatings caused a water flux decline of less than 8% after 6 h of crossflow filtration. Both hydrophilic coatings reduced the percentage of nano/microplastics adsorbed on the membranes by more than 60%. On the contrary, the hydrophobic hexamethyldisiloxane layer had no impact on the cumulative percentage of adsorbed nano/microplastics compared to that of the pristine poly(sulfone) membranes, which culminated at 40%, resulting in a water flux decline of 40% upon filtration for both membranes. The extended Derjaguin–Landau–Verwey–Overbeek (XDLVO) theory was then applied to the system particle-membrane, which identified polar forces as the predominant intermolecular interactions contributing to membrane fouling. Tuning the hydrophilicity of the membranes was, therefore, a more efficient strategy to reduce nano/microplastic materials adsorption during filtration than tailoring the surface charge of the membranes, showing potential for complex water matrices remediation.

Original languageBritish English
Article number119379
JournalJournal of Membrane Science
StatePublished - 1 Sep 2021


  • Energy of adhesion
  • Membrane filtration
  • Microplastics
  • Nanoplastics
  • Plasma polymerisation
  • Surface fouling
  • XDLVO theory


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