A Polysulfone/Cobalt Metal-Organic Framework Nanocomposite Membrane with Enhanced Water Permeability and Fouling Resistance

Eva Gil, Xiaochuan Huang, Kuichang Zuo, Jun Kim, Susana Rincón, José María Rivera, Kiarash Ranjbari, François Perreault, Pedro Alvarez, Alejandro Zepeda, Qilin Li

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations


Ultrafiltration membranes are widely used in water and wastewater applications. The two most important membrane characteristics that determine the cost-effectiveness of an ultrafiltration membrane process are membrane permeability and fouling resistance. Metal-organic frameworks (MOFs) have been intensively investigated as highly selective sorbents and superior (photo) catalysts. Their potential as membrane modifiers has also received attention recently. In this study, a non-functionalized, water-stable, nanocrystalline mixed ligand octahedral MOF containing carboxylate and amine groups with a cobalt metal center (MOF-Co) was incorporated into polysulfone (PSF) ultrafiltration (UF) membranes at a very low nominal concentration (2 and 4 wt %) using the conventional phase inversion method. The resultant PSF/MOF-Co_4% membrane exhibited water permeability up to 360% higher than of the control PSF membrane without sacrificing the selectivity of the membrane, which had not been previously achieved by an unmodified MOF. In addition, the PSF/MOF-Co_4% membrane showed strong resistance to fouling by natural organic matter (NOM), with 87 and 83% reduction in reversible and irreversible NOM fouling, respectively, compared to the control PSF membrane. This improvement was attributed to the increases in membrane porosity and surface hydrophilicity resulting from the high hydrophilicity of the MOF-Co. The capability of increasing membrane water permeability and fouling resistance without compromising membrane selectivity makes the MOF-Co and potentially other hydrophilic MOFs excellent candidates as membrane additives.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)3532-3542
Number of pages11
JournalACS Applied Polymer Materials
Issue number5
StatePublished - May 13 2022


  • membrane permeability
  • metal-organic framework (MOF)
  • mixed matrix membranes (MMMs)
  • nanocomposite membrane
  • organic fouling

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Polymers and Plastics
  • Process Chemistry and Technology
  • Organic Chemistry


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