Synthesis of robust and high-performance aquaporin-based biomimetic membranes by interfacial polymerization-membrane preparation and RO performance characterization

Yang Zhao, Changquan Qiu, Xuesong Li, Ardcharaporn Vararattanavech, Wenming Shen, Jaume Torres, Claus Helix Nielsen, Rong Wang, Xiao Hu, Anthony G. Fane, Chuyang Y. Tang

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articleResearchpeer-review


Aquaporins are water channel proteins with excellent water permeability and solute rejection, which makes them promising for preparing high-performance biomimetic membranes. Despite the growing interest in aquaporin-based biomimetic membranes (ABMs), it is challenging to produce robust and defect-free ABMs that can be easily scaled up. In the current study, a thin film composite (TFC) ABM was prepared by the interfacial polymerization method, where AquaporinZ-containing proteoliposomes were added to the m-phenylene-diamine aqueous solution. Control membranes, either without aquaporins or with inactive (mutant) aquaporins, were also similarly prepared. The separation performance of these membranes was evaluated by cross-flow reverse osmosis (RO) tests. Compared to the controls, the active ABM achieved significantly higher water permeability (∼4L/m2hbar) with comparable NaCl rejection (∼97%) at an applied pressure of 5bar. Its permeability was ∼40% higher compared to a commercial brackish water RO membrane (BW30) and an order of magnitude higher compared to a seawater RO membrane (SW30HR), which clearly demonstrates the great potential of the TFC ABM for desalination applications.

Original languageEnglish
JournalJournal of Membrane Science
Pages (from-to)422-428
Publication statusPublished - 2012


  • Aquaporin
  • Biomimetic membranes
  • Reverse osmosis
  • Interfacial polymerization
  • Thin film composite

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