Comparative impact of SiO2 and TiO2 nanofillers on the performance of thin-film nanocomposite membranes

Gulsum Melike Urper-Bayram, Nathan Bossa, David M. Warsinger, Ismail Koyuncu*, Mark Wiesner*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

18 Citations (Scopus)


Nanoparticle (NP) additions can substantially improve the performance of reverse osmosis and nanofiltration polyamide (PA) membranes. However, the relative impacts of leading additives are poorly understood. In this study, we compare the effects of TiO2 and SiO2 NPs as nanofillers in PA membranes with respect to permeate flux and the rejection of organic matter (OM) and salts. Thin-film nanocomposite (TFN) PA membranes were fabricated using similarly sized TiO2 15 nm and SiO2 (10 – 20 nm) NPs, introduced at four different NP concentrations (0.01, 0.05, 0.2, and 0.5% w/v). Compared with PA membranes fabricated without NPs, membranes fabricated with nanofillers improved membranes hydrophilicity, membrane porosity, and consequently the permeability. Permeability was increased by 24 and 58% with the addition of TiO2 and SiO2, respectively. Rejection performance and fouling behavior of the membranes were examined with salt (MgSO4 and NaCl) and OM (humic acid [HA] and tannic acid [TA]). The addition of TiO2 and SiO2 nanofillers to the PA membranes improved the permeability of these membranes and also increased the rejection of MgSO4, especially for TiO2 membranes. The addition of TiO2 and SiO2 to the membranes exhibited a higher flux and lower flux decline ratio than the control membrane in OM solution filtration. TFN membranes' HA and TA rejections were at least 77 and 71%, respectively. The surface change properties of NPs appear to play a dominant role in determining their effects as nanofillers in the composite membrane matrix through a balance of changes produced in membrane pore size and membrane hydrophilicity.

Original languageEnglish
Article number49382
JournalJournal of Applied Polymer Science
Issue number44
Publication statusPublished - 20 Nov 2020

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2020 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.


G. M. U. B. would like to thank for funding provided by TUBITAK‐BIDEB 2214‐A International Research Fellowship Program. This work was also partially funded through the Center for the Environmental Implications of NanoTechnology (CEINT) under NSF Cooperative Agreement Number EF‐0830093, and the NSF Partnership in International Research and Education (PIRE) Program.

FundersFunder number
National Science FoundationEF‐0830093
Center for the Environmental Implications of NanoTechnology


    • membranes
    • morphology
    • nanocrystals
    • nanoparticles
    • nanowires
    • polyamides
    • separation techniques


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