Negatively Charged Hyperbranched Polyglycerol Grafted Membranes for Osmotic Power Generation from Municipal Wastewater

Xue Li, Tao Cai, Chunyan Chen, Neal Tai-Shung Chung

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

48 Scopus citations


Osmotic power holds great promise as a clean, sustainable and largely unexploited energy resource. Recent membrane development for pressure-retarded osmosis (PRO) is making the osmotic power generation more and more realistic. However, severe performance declines have been observed because the porous layer of PRO membranes is fouled by the feed stream. To overcome it, a negatively charged antifouling PRO hollow fiber membrane has been designed and studied in this work. An antifouling polymer, derived from hyperbranched polyglycerol and functionalized by α-lipoic acid and succinic anhydride, was synthesized and grafted onto the polydopamine (PDA) modified poly(ether sulfone) (PES) hollow fiber membranes. In comparison to unmodified membranes, the charged hyperbranched polyglycerol (CHPG) grafted membrane is much less affected by organic deposition, such as bovine serum albumin (BSA) adsorption, and highly resistant to microbial growths, demonstrated by E. coli adhesion and S. aureus attachment. CHPG-g-TFC was also examined in PRO tests using a concentrated wastewater as the feed. Comparing to the plain PES-TFC and non-charged HPG-g-TFC, the newly developed membrane exhibits not only the smallest decline in water flux but also the highest recovery rate. When using 0.81 M NaCl and wastewater as the feed pair in PRO tests at 15 bar, the average power density remains at 5.6 W/m2 in comparison to an average value of 3.6 W/m2 for unmodified membranes after four PRO runs. In summary, osmotic power generation may be sustained by properly designing and anchoring the functional polymers to PRO membranes.
Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)50-58
Number of pages9
JournalWater Research
StatePublished - Nov 18 2015

Bibliographical note

KAUST Repository Item: Exported on 2020-10-01

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Water Science and Technology
  • Pollution
  • Ecological Modeling
  • Waste Management and Disposal


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