Microalgae recovery by ultrafiltration using novel fouling-resistant PVDF membranes with in situ PEGylated polyethyleneimine particles

Water Res. 2015 Apr 15:73:181-92. doi: 10.1016/j.watres.2014.12.002. Epub 2015 Jan 10.


In this article, we report the preparation, characterization and microalgae recovery potential of a new family of fouling-resistant polyvinylidene fluoride (PVDF) ultrafiltration (UF) membranes embedded with hydrophilic and PEGylated polymeric particles. To optimize membrane performance for microalgae harvesting, we investigate the effects of three hydrophilic additives (Pluronic F-127, polyvinylpyrrolidone and polyethylene glycol) on the morphology, pore size, bulk composition, surface composition, wettability and surface charge, flux and fouling resistance of the mixed matrix PVDF membranes with in situ PEGylated polyethyleneimine (PEI) particles. Our filtration experiments show that a mixed matrix PVDF membrane with PEGylated PEI particles and Pluronic F-127 additive (PNSM-1) has an algae retention of 100% with a permeate flux of 96 L/m(2)/hr that is larger (by ∼50%) than that of a commercial and hydrophilic PVDF UF membrane with a molecular weight cut-off of 30 kDa using a suspension of Chlorella sp. KR-1 microalgae with 1.2-1.4 g/L of dry biomass. The algae and water flux recovery rates of our new PNSM-1 are equal to∼ 94% and 100%, respectively, following a simulated membrane wash with deionized water and two subsequent water and microalgae filtration cycles.

Keywords: Fouling resistant membranes; Microalgae harvesting; Mixed matrix membranes; Resource recovery; Water treatment.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Hydrophobic and Hydrophilic Interactions
  • Microalgae*
  • Polyethyleneimine / chemistry*
  • Polyvinyls / chemistry*
  • Ultrafiltration*
  • Water Purification / methods*


  • Polyvinyls
  • polyvinylidene fluoride
  • Polyethyleneimine