Recent advances in nanomaterial-modified polyamide thin-film composite membranes for forward osmosis processes

Nawshad Akther, Sherub Phuntsho, Yuan Chen, NorEddine Ghaffour, Ho Kyong Shon

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118 Scopus citations


Polyamide thin-film composite (PA TFC) membranes have attained much attention for forward osmosis (FO) applications in separation processes, water and wastewater treatment due to their superior intrinsic properties, such as high salt rejection and water permeability compared to the first-generation cellulose-based FO membranes. Nonetheless, several problems like fouling and trade-off between membrane selectivity and water permeability have hindered the progress of conventional PA TFC FO membranes for real applications. To overcome these issues, nanomaterials or chemical additives have been integrated into the TFC membranes. Nanomaterial-modified membranes have demonstrated significant improvement in their anti-fouling properties and FO performance. In addition, the PA TFC membranes can be designed for specific applications like heavy metal removal and osmotic membrane bioreactor by using nanomaterials to modify their physicochemical properties (porosity, surface charge, hydrophilicity, membrane structure and mechanical strength). This review provides a comprehensive summary of the progress of nanocomposite PA TFC membrane since its first development for FO in the year 2012. The nanomaterial-incorporated TFC membranes are classified into four categories based on the location of nanomaterial in/on the membranes: embedded inside the PA active layer, incorporated within the substrate, coated on the PA layer surface, or deposited as an interlayer between the substrate and the PA active layer. The key challenges still being confronted and the future research directions for nanocomposite PA TFC FO are also discussed.
Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)20-45
Number of pages26
JournalJournal of Membrane Science
StatePublished - May 8 2019

Bibliographical note

KAUST Repository Item: Exported on 2020-10-01
Acknowledged KAUST grant number(s): URF/1/3404-01
Acknowledgements: The research reported in this paper was supported by the King Abdullah University of Science and Technology (KAUST), Saudi Arabia through the Competitive Research Grant Program – CRG2017 (CRG6), Grant # URF/1/3404-01. H.K.S. and Y.C. acknowledge the support provided by the Australian Research Council under the Future Fellowships scheme (FT140101208 & FT160100107), ARC Industry Hub (IH170100009) and Discovery Project (DP180102210).


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