Graphene–PSS/L-DOPA nanocomposite cation exchange membranes for electrodialysis desalination

Adetunji Alabi, Levente Cseri, Ahmed AlHajaj, Gyorgy Szekely, Peter Martin Budd, Linda Zou

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

8 Scopus citations


This research reports the fabrication of nanocomposite cation exchange membranes (CEMs) by incorporating negatively charged graphene-based nanomaterials into a non-charged poly(vinylidene fluoride) (PVDF) matrix using a mold-casting technique developed in-house. Graphene oxide (GO) or reduced graphene oxide (rGO) nanosheets were modified into ion exchange group carriers using a sulfonic group-bearing agent based on poly(sodium 4- styrenesulfonate)/3,4-dihydroxy-L-phenylalanine (PSS/L-DOPA) (SGO or SrGO). Such modified nanosheets provide the ion exchange capabilities in SGO/PVDF and SrGO/PVDF nanocomposite CEMs, respectively. Both nanocomposite CEMs displayed lower linear swelling ratios which are good for membrane stability. This was due to the presence of the nanomaterials which acted as pore fillers and increased the stiffness of the nanocomposite membranes. The ion exchange capacity (IEC) and permselectivity of the SGO/PVDF_45 CEMs were slightly higher than the values for the SrGO/PVDF_45 CEM. It was found that the SrGO additive increased the area resistance of the nanocomposite CEM. However, SrGO/PVDF_45 CEM demonstrated a higher current efficiency (7.5% higher than SGO/PVDF_45), which could be attributed to the improved electronic conductivity of rGO. It was found that both nanocomposite CEMs performed well in electrodialysis experiments to achieve the substantial salt removal rates, although the energy consumption results of the novel nanocomposite CEMs were higher than the conventional polymeric CEM. The above research results have successfully demonstrated the concept of fabricating nanocomposite cation exchange membranes (CEMs) for electrodialysis applications by employing negatively charged graphene-based nanomaterials as ion exchange carriers.
Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalEnvironmental Science: Nano
StatePublished - Aug 19 2020

Bibliographical note

KAUST Repository Item: Exported on 2020-10-01
Acknowledgements: This manuscript is part of a research collaboration between Masdar Institute-Khalifa University and University of Manchester (SMG2016-000001). The authors acknowledge the financial support of Khalifa University, Abu Dhabi, UAE, and the University of Manchester, UK. The authors would also like to thank Aikifa Raza and Hongxia Li for assisting with water contact angle measurements; and Andreas Dubbe, Patrick Altmeier, and Rebecca Jung from PCCell GmbH (Lebacher Str. 60, 66265 Heusweiler, Germany) for electrodialysis tests.


Dive into the research topics of 'Graphene–PSS/L-DOPA nanocomposite cation exchange membranes for electrodialysis desalination'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this