Targeted modification of polyamide nanofiltration membrane for efficient separation of monosaccharides and monovalent salt

Jingyu Wang, Yuling Ren, Huiru Zhang, Jianquan Luo*, John M. Woodley, Yinhua Wan

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articleResearchpeer-review


Separation of monosaccharides and monovalent salts is important in the biorefinery and food industry. Nanofiltration (NF) technology is promising for this purpose but its poor selectivity still needs to be addressed. In this work, the separation of monosaccharides and monovalent salts by NF is improved by regulating the surface charge and pore size distribution of polyamide NF membranes. The carboxyl groups on the polyamide membrane are selectively activated by N-(3-Dimethylaminopropyl)-N′-ethyl carbodiimide (EDC) and N-hydroxy succinimide (NHS), and subsequently molecules with amino groups are grafted on the membrane to reduce the effective pore size and electronegativity. The conditions and grafted molecules are optimized, and polyethyleneimine (600 Da) is selected as the best for enhancing the separation of glucose/fructose and KCl. Such targeted modification is found to reduce the effective mean pore size while maintaining the porosity of the NF270 membrane, due to pore segmentation. This results in a remarkable improvement in glucose/fructose rejection (from 67.96% to 84.14%) and separation factor (from 2.20 to 6.78), with only a 4.70% permeability loss. The modified membrane also maintains separation performance in crossflow filtration and after alkaline cleaning (pH 12), which outperforms the pristine NF270 and those modified by mussel-inspired coating and simple physical adsorption.

Original languageEnglish
Article number119250
JournalJournal of Membrane Science
Number of pages10
Publication statusPublished - 2021

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
The financial supports are supplied by the Science and Technology Service Network Program of Chinese Academy of Sciences ( KFJ-STS-QYZX-096 ), the Province Key Research and Development Program of Shandong ( 2019JZZY010348 ) and Youth Innovation Promotion Association ( 2017069 ) of Chinese Academy of Sciences .


  • Desalination
  • Pore size distribution
  • Separation selectivity
  • Surface charge regulation
  • Targeted modification

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