Transforming an end-of-life reverse osmosis membrane in a cationic exchange membrane and its application in a fungal microbial fuel cell

Anissa Somrani, Mehri Shabani, Zaineb Mohamed, NorEddine Ghaffour, Fabio Seibel, Vandre Barbosa Briao, Maxime Pontié

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5 Scopus citations


This article describes for the first time the elaboration of a cationic exchange membrane (CEM) from an end-of-life reverse osmosis (RO) membrane. The cationic exchange membrane has been prepared in two successive steps: (i) chlorine attack and (ii) filtration/adsorption of a polystyrene sulfonic acid (PSS) electrolyte solution. Physicochemical characterizations have been undertaken including (Na+) transference number (t(Na+)), diffusion flux measurements (Js), and cationic exchange capacity (CEC) determinations, as the properties encountered for a classical cationic exchange membrane. The hydraulic permeability (Lp) was also determined to characterize the molecular weight cut-off. This novel membrane denoted as ANIMAX has also been characterized by ATR-FTIR and SEM/AFM tools. We have utilized an old brackish water membrane denoted BW30 (stocked in bisulfite 1% for 10 years) to develop a new sulfonated UF membrane with a molecular cut-off of 55 kDa. We have observed that the roughness was divided by 2 (295 to 144nm) showing a lower propensity to fouling/biofouling of the novel membrane elaborated. As for the application, the newly synthesized membrane has been tested during 4 days of experiments in a fungal microbial fuel cell laboratory set-up vs Nafion© 117 the usual cationic membrane in MFC technology. We observed a lower external resistance with a value of 8 kOhm vs 37 kOhm for ANIMAX vs Nafion®117, respectively. Graphical abstract: [Figure not available: see fulltext.]
Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)3169-3184
Number of pages16
Issue number7
StatePublished - May 4 2021

Bibliographical note

KAUST Repository Item: Exported on 2021-11-21
Acknowledgements: The authors would like to thank the microscopy department of Angers University (SCIAM, France) with a special thanks to Romain Mallet. Lots of thanks to Nadege BLON for the FTIR spectra result from the Chemical Engineering Department of Angers University, Faculty of Sciences. We would also like to appreciate the Campus France, Paris (France), and the French Embassy in Tehran (Iran) for providing the scholarship of Ph.D. student Mehri Shabani.


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