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Membranes, Volume 13, Issue 12 (December 2023) – 26 articles

Cover Story (view full-size image): In this study, we developed a novel pore-filled anion-exchange membrane (PFAEM), enhanced with polypyrrole (PPy) and reduced graphene oxide (rGO), to elevate the energy harvesting efficiency in reverse electrodialysis (RED). The PPy/rGO layer effectively reduced the permeation of multivalent ions by controlling surface properties such as compactness and electrostatic repulsion. As a result, the PFAEM showed excellent monovalent ion selectivity and effectively suppressed the uphill movement of multivalent ions, improving the open-circuit voltage and power density of RED. The results of this study are also expected to provide valuable information for developing ion-exchange membranes with high monovalent ion selectivity required in a variety of electro-membrane processes. View this paper
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16 pages, 2930 KiB  
Article
Feasibility of Forward Osmosis to Recover Textile Dyes Using Single Salts and Multicomponent Draw Solutions
Membranes 2023, 13(12), 911; https://doi.org/10.3390/membranes13120911 - 18 Dec 2023
Viewed by 1074
Abstract
The textile industry generates large volumes of water characterized mainly by an intense color coming from dyes that are difficult to process due to their synthetic base and the presence of aromatic components. Due to the stricter regulation on the discharge of these [...] Read more.
The textile industry generates large volumes of water characterized mainly by an intense color coming from dyes that are difficult to process due to their synthetic base and the presence of aromatic components. Due to the stricter regulation on the discharge of these effluents, in order to reduce dye waste before discharge into natural channels, alternatives are being sought to manage this wastewater. In this work, the concentration of dyes in simulated wastewater from the textile industry was studied by forward osmosis (with a cellulose triacetate CTA membrane), with the aim of concentrating the dye for its future recovery and reincorporation into the production process. Two dyes of different nature were evaluated to study the efficiency of the proposed process, using NaCl and reverse osmosis brine from a model seawater desalination solution as extraction solutions. It was observed that dye type (reactive or direct) and their charge influence the color rejection with the forward osmosis membrane used. It was able to concentrate the dyes in the feed solution up to approximately 55% with the reverse osmosis brine from the model seawater desalination solution. Finally, the results demonstrate that the FO process is a promising option for concentrating dyes present in wastewater from the textile industry in order to reuse them in the dyeing process. Full article
(This article belongs to the Section Membrane Processing and Engineering)
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13 pages, 1611 KiB  
Article
Membrane Tubulation with a Biomembrane Force Probe
Membranes 2023, 13(12), 910; https://doi.org/10.3390/membranes13120910 - 18 Dec 2023
Viewed by 938
Abstract
Tubulation is a common cellular process involving the formation of membrane tubes ranging from 50 nm to 1 µm in diameter. These tubes facilitate intercompartmental connections, material transport within cells and content exchange between cells. The high curvature of these tubes makes them [...] Read more.
Tubulation is a common cellular process involving the formation of membrane tubes ranging from 50 nm to 1 µm in diameter. These tubes facilitate intercompartmental connections, material transport within cells and content exchange between cells. The high curvature of these tubes makes them specific targets for proteins that sense local geometry. In vitro, similar tubes have been created by pulling on the membranes of giant unilamellar vesicles. Optical tweezers and micromanipulation are typically used in these experiments, involving the manipulation of a GUV with a micropipette and a streptavidin-coated bead trapped in optical tweezers. The interaction forms streptavidin/biotin bonds, leading to tube formation. Here, we propose a cost-effective alternative using only micromanipulation techniques, replacing optical tweezers with a Biomembrane Force Probe (BFP). The BFP, employing a biotinylated erythrocyte as a nanospring, allows for the controlled measurement of forces ranging from 1 pN to 1 nN. The BFP has been widely used to study molecular interactions in cellular processes, extending beyond its original purpose. We outline the experimental setup, tube formation and characterization of tube dimensions and energetics, and discuss the advantages and limitations of this approach in studying membrane tubulation. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Artificial Models of Biological Membranes—2nd Edition)
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21 pages, 2954 KiB  
Article
Structural Changes Induced by Resveratrol in Monounsaturated and Polyunsaturated Phosphatidylcholine-Enriched Model Membranes
Membranes 2023, 13(12), 909; https://doi.org/10.3390/membranes13120909 - 14 Dec 2023
Viewed by 979
Abstract
Resveratrol (Resv) is considered to exert a beneficial impact due to its radical scavenger, anti-microbial and anti-inflammatory properties through several mechanisms that could include its interaction with the cell plasma membrane. To address this issue, we investigated the influence of Resv on membrane [...] Read more.
Resveratrol (Resv) is considered to exert a beneficial impact due to its radical scavenger, anti-microbial and anti-inflammatory properties through several mechanisms that could include its interaction with the cell plasma membrane. To address this issue, we investigated the influence of Resv on membrane lipid order and organization in large unilamellar vesicles composed of different lipids and ratios. The studied lipid membrane models were composed of phosphatidylcholine (PC) species (either palmitoyl-docosahexaenoyl phosphatidylcholine (PDPC) or palmitoyl-oleoyl phosphatidylcholine (POPC)), sphingomyelin (SM) and cholesterol (Chol). This study found that the addition of Resv resulted in complex membrane reorganization depending on the degree of fatty acid unsaturation at the sn-2 position, and the Lipid/Resv and SM/Chol ratios. Resv rigidified POPC-containing membranes and increased liquid-ordered (Lo) domain formation in 40/40/20 POPC/SM/Chol mixtures as this increase was lower at a 33/33/34 ratio. In contrast, Resv interacted with PDPC/SM/Chol mixtures in a bimodal manner by fluidizing/rigidifying the membranes in a dose-dependent way. Lo domain formation upon Resv addition occurred via the following bimodal mode of action: Lo domain size increased at low Resv concentrations; then, Lo domain size decreased at higher ones. To account for the variable effect of Resv, we suggest that it may act as a “spacer” at low doses, with a transition to a more “filler” position in the lipid bulk. We hypothesize that one of the roles of Resv is to tune the lipid order and organization of cell plasma membranes, which is closely linked to important cell functions such as membrane sorting and trafficking. Full article
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13 pages, 3836 KiB  
Article
Investigating Mass Transfer and Reaction Engineering Characteristics in a Membrane Biofilm Using Cupriavidus necator H16
Membranes 2023, 13(12), 908; https://doi.org/10.3390/membranes13120908 - 14 Dec 2023
Viewed by 2026
Abstract
Membrane biofilm reactors are a growing trend in wastewater treatment whereby gas-transfer membranes provide efficient bubbleless aeration. Recently, there has been a growing interest in using these bioreactors for industrial biotechnology using microorganisms that can metabolise gaseous substrates. Since gas fermentation is limited [...] Read more.
Membrane biofilm reactors are a growing trend in wastewater treatment whereby gas-transfer membranes provide efficient bubbleless aeration. Recently, there has been a growing interest in using these bioreactors for industrial biotechnology using microorganisms that can metabolise gaseous substrates. Since gas fermentation is limited by the low solubilities of gaseous substrates in liquid media, it is critical to characterise mass transfer rates of gaseous substrates to enable the design of membrane biofilm reactors. The objective of this study is to measure and analyse mass transfer rates and reaction engineering characteristics for a single tube membrane biofilm reactor using Cupriavidus necator H16. At elevated Reynolds numbers, the dominant resistance for gas diffusion shifts from the liquid boundary layer to the membrane. The biofilm growth rate was observed to decrease after 260 μm at 96 h. After 144 h, some sloughing of the biofilm occurred. Oxygen uptake rate and substrate utilisation rate for the biofilm developed showed that the biofilm changes from a single-substrate limited regime to a dual-substrate-limited regime after 72 h which alters the localisation of the microbial activity within the biofilm. This study shows that this platform technology has potential applications for industrial biotechnology. Full article
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11 pages, 2869 KiB  
Article
Evaluation of the Microbial Profile on the Polydioxanone Membrane and the Collagen Membrane Exposed to Multi-Species Subgingival Biofilm: An In Vitro Study
Membranes 2023, 13(12), 907; https://doi.org/10.3390/membranes13120907 - 14 Dec 2023
Viewed by 978
Abstract
Dehiscence in surgeries involving membranes often leads to bacterial contamination, hindering the healing process. This study assessed bacterial colonization on various membrane materials. Polydioxanone (PDO) membranes, with thicknesses of 0.5 mm and 1 mm, and a collagen membrane were examined. Packages containing polystyrene [...] Read more.
Dehiscence in surgeries involving membranes often leads to bacterial contamination, hindering the healing process. This study assessed bacterial colonization on various membrane materials. Polydioxanone (PDO) membranes, with thicknesses of 0.5 mm and 1 mm, and a collagen membrane were examined. Packages containing polystyrene pins were crafted using these membranes, attached to 24-well plates, and exposed to oral bacteria from supra and subgingival biofilm. After a week’s anaerobic incubation, biofilm formation was evaluated using the DNA–DNA hybridization test. Statistical analysis employed the Kruskal–Wallis test with Dunn’s post hoc test. The biofilm on the polystyrene pins covered by the 0.5 mm PDO membrane showed a higher count of certain pathogens. The collagen membrane had a greater total biofilm count on its inner surface compared to both PDO membranes. The external collagen membrane face had a higher total biofilm count than the 0.5 mm PDO membrane. Furthermore, the 1 mm PDO membrane exhibited a greater count of specific pathogens than its 0.5 mm counterpart. In conclusion, the collagen membrane presented more biofilm and pathogens both internally and on its inner surface. Full article
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16 pages, 12428 KiB  
Article
Preparation and Characterization of Polyethersulfone/Activated Carbon Composite Membranes for Water Filtration
Membranes 2023, 13(12), 906; https://doi.org/10.3390/membranes13120906 - 12 Dec 2023
Viewed by 1287
Abstract
Ultrafiltration membrane technology holds promise for wastewater treatment, but its widespread application is hindered by fouling and flux reduction issues. One effective strategy for enhancing ultrafiltration membranes involves incorporating activated carbon powder. In this study, composite polyethersulfone (PES) ultrafiltration membranes were fabricated to [...] Read more.
Ultrafiltration membrane technology holds promise for wastewater treatment, but its widespread application is hindered by fouling and flux reduction issues. One effective strategy for enhancing ultrafiltration membranes involves incorporating activated carbon powder. In this study, composite polyethersulfone (PES) ultrafiltration membranes were fabricated to include activated carbon powder concentrations between 0 and 1.5 wt.%, with carbon size fixed at 200 mesh. The ultrafiltration membranes were evaluated in terms of membrane morphology, hydrophilicity, pure water flux, equilibrium water content, porosity, average pore size, protein separation, and E-coli bacteria removal. It was found that the addition of activated carbon to PES membranes resulted in improvements in some key properties. By incorporating activated carbon powder, the hydrophilicity of PES membranes was enhanced, lowering the contact angle from 60° to 47.3° for composite membranes (1.0 wt.% of activated carbon) compared to the pristine PES membrane. Water flux tests showed that the 1.0 wt.% composite membrane yielded the highest flux, with an improvement of nearly double the initial value at 2 bar, without compromising bovine serum albumin rejection or bacterial removal capabilities. This study also found that the inclusion of activated carbon had a minor impact on the membrane’s porosity and equilibrium water content. Overall, these insights will be beneficial in determining the optimal concentration of activated carbon powder for PES ultrafiltration membranes. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Feature Papers in Membrane Analysis and Characterization)
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14 pages, 967 KiB  
Article
A Synthetic Model of the Mucosa for Oral Penetration Studies
Membranes 2023, 13(12), 905; https://doi.org/10.3390/membranes13120905 - 12 Dec 2023
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 1188
Abstract
The main objective of this study is the evaluation of the use of a synthetic membrane, Nuclepore, as a model for permeation studies through sublingual mucosa. The permeability of two types of membranes, porcine sublingual oral mucosa and a synthetic Nuclepore membrane, to [...] Read more.
The main objective of this study is the evaluation of the use of a synthetic membrane, Nuclepore, as a model for permeation studies through sublingual mucosa. The permeability of two types of membranes, porcine sublingual oral mucosa and a synthetic Nuclepore membrane, to water was compared. Moreover, the water permeability of membranes modified with waterproofing formulations was measured to study their ability to protect against the penetration of viruses, toxins, etc. A relatively high correlation (R2 0.88) was obtained between the transmucosal water loss (TMWL) values of the artificial membrane and the mucosa. These results support the possible use of this synthetic membrane in the screening of the water permeability of formulations. In addition, studies of the permeation of different actives, drugs, and biocides through the two membranes were carried out, and these results were compared with their skin permeation data. The synthetic membrane does not seem to discern between compounds in terms of permeability. However, the permeation of caffeine through intact or modified membranes incorporating waterproofing formulations presents similar permeation profiles through the synthetic membrane and mucosa. The results from these assays should lend support to the use of this synthetic membrane when screening formulations to be applied in oral penetration studies. Full article
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3 pages, 188 KiB  
Editorial
Membrane Proteins: Function, Structure, and Dynamics
Membranes 2023, 13(12), 904; https://doi.org/10.3390/membranes13120904 - 09 Dec 2023
Viewed by 1092
Abstract
Plasma and intracellular membranes are characterized by different lipid compositions that enable proteins to localize to distinct subcellular compartments [...] Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Membrane Proteins: Function, Structure, and Dynamic)
30 pages, 3991 KiB  
Review
Advancements in Gas Separation for Energy Applications: Exploring the Potential of Polymer Membranes with Intrinsic Microporosity (PIM)
Membranes 2023, 13(12), 903; https://doi.org/10.3390/membranes13120903 - 06 Dec 2023
Viewed by 1325
Abstract
Membrane-based Polymers of Intrinsic Microporosity (PIMs) are promising candidates for energy-efficient industrial gas separations, especially for the separation of carbon dioxide over methane (CO2/CH4) and carbon dioxide over nitrogen (CO2/N2) for natural gas/biogas upgrading and [...] Read more.
Membrane-based Polymers of Intrinsic Microporosity (PIMs) are promising candidates for energy-efficient industrial gas separations, especially for the separation of carbon dioxide over methane (CO2/CH4) and carbon dioxide over nitrogen (CO2/N2) for natural gas/biogas upgrading and carbon capture from flue gases, respectively. Compared to other separation techniques, membrane separations offer potential energy and cost savings. Ultra-permeable PIM-based polymers are currently leading the trade-off between permeability and selectivity for gas separations, particularly in CO2/CH4 and CO2/N2. These membranes show a significant improvement in performance and fall within a linear correlation on benchmark Robeson plots, which are parallel to, but significantly above, the CO2/CH4 and CO2/N2 Robeson upper bounds. This improvement is expected to enhance the credibility of polymer membranes for CO2 separations and stimulate further research in polymer science and applied engineering to develop membrane systems for these CO2 separations, which are critical to energy and environmental sustainability. This review aims to highlight the state-of-the-art strategies employed to enhance gas separation performances in PIM-based membranes while also mitigating aging effects. These strategies include chemical post-modification, crosslinking, UV and thermal treatment of PIM, as well as the incorporation of nanofillers in the polymeric matrix. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Preparation and Application of Novel Polymer Membranes)
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17 pages, 1444 KiB  
Article
Treatment of Stainless Steel Rinse Waters Using Non-Dispersive Extraction and Strip Dispersion Membrane Technology
Membranes 2023, 13(12), 902; https://doi.org/10.3390/membranes13120902 - 06 Dec 2023
Viewed by 1066
Abstract
The extraction of Fe(III), Cr(III), and Ni(II) from stainless steel rinse water using non-dispersive extraction and strip dispersion membrane technology was carried out in a microporous hydrophobic hollow-fibre module contactor. The fibres were of polypropylene, whereas the organic extractant DP8R (bis(2-ethylhexyl) phosphoric acid) [...] Read more.
The extraction of Fe(III), Cr(III), and Ni(II) from stainless steel rinse water using non-dispersive extraction and strip dispersion membrane technology was carried out in a microporous hydrophobic hollow-fibre module contactor. The fibres were of polypropylene, whereas the organic extractant DP8R (bis(2-ethylhexyl) phosphoric acid) diluted in ExxsolD100 was used as the carrier phase. The rinse water containing the three elements was passed through the tube side, and the pseudo-emulsion formed by the organic phase of DP8R in Exxol D100 and an acidic strip solution were passed through the shell side in a counter-current operation; thus, a unique hollow fibre module was used for extraction and stripping. In non-dispersive extraction and strip dispersion technology, the stripping solution was dispersed into the organic membrane solution in a vessel with an adequate mixing device (impeller) designed to form strip dispersion. This pseudo-emulsion was circulated from the vessel to the membrane module to provide a constant supply of the organic phase to the membrane pores. Different hydrodynamic and chemical variables, such as variation in feed and pseudo-emulsion flow rates, strip phase composition, feed phase pH, and extractant concentration in the organic phase, were investigated. Mass transfer coefficients were estimated from the experimental data. It was possible to separate and concentrate the metals present in the rinse water using the non-dispersive extraction and strip dispersion technique. Full article
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14 pages, 5523 KiB  
Article
Understanding Bidirectional Water Transport across Bronchial Epithelial Cell Monolayers: A Microfluidic Approach
Membranes 2023, 13(12), 901; https://doi.org/10.3390/membranes13120901 - 06 Dec 2023
Viewed by 1204
Abstract
Deciphering the dynamics of water transport across bronchial epithelial cell monolayers is pivotal for unraveling respiratory physiology and pathology. In this study, we employ an advanced microfluidic system to explore bidirectional water transport across 16HBE14σ bronchial epithelial cells. Previous experiments unveiled electroneutral multiple [...] Read more.
Deciphering the dynamics of water transport across bronchial epithelial cell monolayers is pivotal for unraveling respiratory physiology and pathology. In this study, we employ an advanced microfluidic system to explore bidirectional water transport across 16HBE14σ bronchial epithelial cells. Previous experiments unveiled electroneutral multiple ion transport, with chloride ions utilizing transcellular pathways and sodium ions navigating both paracellular and transcellular routes. Unexpectedly, under isoosmotic conditions, rapid bidirectional movement of Na+ and Cl was observed, leading to the hypothesis of a substantial transport of isoosmotic solution (145 mM NaCl) across cell monolayers. To validate this conjecture, we introduce an innovative microfluidic device, offering a 500-fold sensitivity improvement in quantifying fluid flow. This system enables the direct measurement of minuscule fluid volumes traversing cell monolayers with unprecedented precision. Our results challenge conventional models, indicating a self-regulating mechanism governing water transport that involves the CFTR channel and anion exchangers. In healthy subjects, equilibrium is achieved at an apical potential of Δφap = −30 mV, while subjects with cystic fibrosis exhibit modulation by an anion exchanger, reaching equilibrium at [Cl] = 67 mM in the airway surface liquid. This nuanced electrochemical basis for bidirectional water transport in bronchial epithelia sheds light on physiological intricacies and introduces a novel perspective for understanding respiratory conditions. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Advances in Artificial and Biological Membranes, Volume II)
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19 pages, 5994 KiB  
Article
Permeation Flux Prediction of Vacuum Membrane Distillation Using Hybrid Machine Learning Techniques
Membranes 2023, 13(12), 900; https://doi.org/10.3390/membranes13120900 - 05 Dec 2023
Viewed by 1128
Abstract
Vacuum membrane distillation (VMD) has attracted increasing interest for various applications besides seawater desalination. Experimental testing of membrane technologies such as VMD on a pilot or large scale can be laborious and costly. Machine learning techniques can be a valuable tool for predicting [...] Read more.
Vacuum membrane distillation (VMD) has attracted increasing interest for various applications besides seawater desalination. Experimental testing of membrane technologies such as VMD on a pilot or large scale can be laborious and costly. Machine learning techniques can be a valuable tool for predicting membrane performance on such scales. In this work, a novel hybrid model was developed based on incorporating a spotted hyena optimizer (SHO) with support vector machine (SVR) to predict the flux pressure in VMD. The SVR–SHO hybrid model was validated with experimental data and benchmarked against other machine learning tools such as artificial neural networks (ANNs), classical SVR, and multiple linear regression (MLR). The results show that the SVR–SHO predicted flux pressure with high accuracy with a correlation coefficient (R) of 0.94. However, other models showed a lower prediction accuracy than SVR–SHO with R-values ranging from 0.801 to 0.902. Global sensitivity analysis was applied to interpret the obtained result, revealing that feed temperature was the most influential operating parameter on flux, with a relative importance score of 52.71 compared to 17.69, 17.16, and 14.44 for feed flowrate, vacuum pressure intensity, and feed concentration, respectively. Full article
(This article belongs to the Collection Feature Papers in Section 'Membrane Physics and Theory')
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23 pages, 20495 KiB  
Article
Investigation of CO2 Absorption Rate in Gas/Liquid Membrane Contactors with Inserting 3D Printing Mini-Channel Turbulence Promoters
Membranes 2023, 13(12), 899; https://doi.org/10.3390/membranes13120899 - 04 Dec 2023
Viewed by 1276
Abstract
The CO2 absorption by Monoethanolamine (MEA) solutions as chemical absorption was conducted in the membrane gas absorption module with inserting 3D mini-channel turbulence promoters of the present work. A mathematical modeling of CO2 absorption flux was analyzed by using the chemical [...] Read more.
The CO2 absorption by Monoethanolamine (MEA) solutions as chemical absorption was conducted in the membrane gas absorption module with inserting 3D mini-channel turbulence promoters of the present work. A mathematical modeling of CO2 absorption flux was analyzed by using the chemical absorption theory based on mass-transfer resistances in series. The membrane absorption module with embedding 3D mini-channel turbulence promoters in the current study indicated that the CO2 absorption rate improvement is achieved due to the diminishing concentration polarization effect nearby the membrane surfaces. A simplified regression equation of the average Sherwood number was correlated to express the enhanced mass-transfer coefficient of the CO2 absorption. The experimental results and theoretical predictions showed that the absorption flux improvement was significantly improved with implementing 3D mini-channel turbulence promoters. The experimental results of CO2 absorption fluxes were performed in good agreement with the theoretical predictions in aqueous MEA solutions. A further absorption flux enhancement up to 30.56% was accomplished as compared to the results in the previous work, which the module was inserted the promoter without mini channels. The influences of the MEA absorbent flow rates and inlet CO2 concentrations on the absorption flux and absorption flux improvement are also illustrated under both concurrent- and countercurrent-flow operations. Full article
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27 pages, 5353 KiB  
Review
Membrane-Based Technologies for Post-Combustion CO2 Capture from Flue Gases: Recent Progress in Commonly Employed Membrane Materials
Membranes 2023, 13(12), 898; https://doi.org/10.3390/membranes13120898 - 02 Dec 2023
Viewed by 2044
Abstract
Carbon dioxide (CO2), which results from fossil fuel combustion and industrial processes, accounts for a substantial part of the total anthropogenic greenhouse gases (GHGs). As a result, several carbon capture, utilization and storage (CCUS) technologies have been developed during the last [...] Read more.
Carbon dioxide (CO2), which results from fossil fuel combustion and industrial processes, accounts for a substantial part of the total anthropogenic greenhouse gases (GHGs). As a result, several carbon capture, utilization and storage (CCUS) technologies have been developed during the last decade. Chemical absorption, adsorption, cryogenic separation and membrane separation are the most widely used post-combustion CO2 capture technologies. This study reviews post-combustion CO2 capture technologies and the latest progress in membrane processes for CO2 separation. More specifically, the objective of the present work is to present the state of the art of membrane-based technologies for CO2 capture from flue gases and focuses mainly on recent advancements in commonly employed membrane materials. These materials are utilized for the fabrication and application of novel composite membranes or mixed-matrix membranes (MMMs), which present improved intrinsic and surface characteristics and, thus, can achieve high selectivity and permeability. Recent progress is described regarding the utilization of metal–organic frameworks (MOFs), carbon molecular sieves (CMSs), nanocomposite membranes, ionic liquid (IL)-based membranes and facilitated transport membranes (FTMs), which comprise MMMs. The most significant challenges and future prospects of implementing membrane technologies for CO2 capture are also presented. Full article
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17 pages, 3313 KiB  
Article
Histamine Receptors: Ex Vivo Functional Studies Enabling the Discovery of Hits and Pathways
Membranes 2023, 13(12), 897; https://doi.org/10.3390/membranes13120897 - 02 Dec 2023
Viewed by 1425
Abstract
Histamine receptors (HRs) are G-protein-coupled receptors involved in diverse responses triggered by histamine release during inflammation or by encounters with venomous creatures. Four histamine receptors (H1R–H4R) have been cloned and extensively characterized. These receptors are distributed throughout the body and their activation is [...] Read more.
Histamine receptors (HRs) are G-protein-coupled receptors involved in diverse responses triggered by histamine release during inflammation or by encounters with venomous creatures. Four histamine receptors (H1R–H4R) have been cloned and extensively characterized. These receptors are distributed throughout the body and their activation is associated with clinical manifestations such as urticaria (H1R), gastric acid stimulation (H2R), regulation of neurotransmitters in neuronal diseases (H3R), and immune responses (H4R). Despite significant homologous overlap between H3R and H4R, much remains unknown about their precise roles. Even though some drugs have been developed for H1R, H2R, and H3R, not a single H4R antagonist has been approved for clinical use. To enhance our understanding and advance innovative therapeutic targeting of H1R, H2R, H3R, and H4R, we established a robust ex vivo functional platform. This platform features the successful heterologous expression of H1R–H4R in Xenopus laevis oocytes, utilizing an electrophysiological readout. Our findings contribute to a deeper understanding of the function and pharmacological properties of the histamine receptors. Researchers can benefit from the utility of this platform when investigating the effects of histamine receptors and exploring potential therapeutic targets. In doing so, it broadens the horizon of drug discovery, offering new perspectives for therapeutic interventions. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue The Xenopus Oocyte: A Tool for Membrane Biology, Second Edition)
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16 pages, 3601 KiB  
Opinion
Potential of the Novel Slot Blot Method with a PVDF Membrane for Protein Identification and Quantification in Kampo Medicines
Membranes 2023, 13(12), 896; https://doi.org/10.3390/membranes13120896 - 01 Dec 2023
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 1234
Abstract
Kampo is a Japanese traditional medicine modified from traditional Chinese medicine. Kampo medicines contain various traditional crude drugs with unknown compositions due to the presence of low-molecular-weight compounds and proteins. However, the proteins are generally rare and extracted with high-polarity solvents such as [...] Read more.
Kampo is a Japanese traditional medicine modified from traditional Chinese medicine. Kampo medicines contain various traditional crude drugs with unknown compositions due to the presence of low-molecular-weight compounds and proteins. However, the proteins are generally rare and extracted with high-polarity solvents such as water, making their identification and quantification difficult. To develop methods for identifying and quantifying the proteins in Kampo medicines, in the current study we employ previous technology (e.g., column chromatography, electrophoresis, and membrane chromatography), focusing on membrane chromatography with a polyvinylidene difluoride (PVDF) membrane. Moreover, we consider slot blot analysis based on the principle of membrane chromatography, which is beneficial for analyzing the proteins in Kampo medicines as the volume of the samples is not limited. In this article, we assess a novel slot blot method developed in 2017 and using a PVDF membrane and special lysis buffer to quantify advanced glycation end products-modified proteins against other slot blots. We consider our slot blot analysis superior for identifying and quantifying proteins in Kampo medicines compared with other methods as the data obtained with our novel slot blot can be shown with both error bars and the statistically significant difference, and our operation step is simpler than those of other methods. Full article
(This article belongs to the Collection Feature Papers in Membrane Engineering and Applications)
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7 pages, 269 KiB  
Brief Report
A Thermodynamic Perspective of Cancer Cells’ Volume/Area Expansion Ratio
Membranes 2023, 13(12), 895; https://doi.org/10.3390/membranes13120895 - 30 Nov 2023
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 1058
Abstract
The constructal law is used to improve the analysis of the resonant heat transfer in cancer cells. The result highlights the fundamental role of the volume/area ratio and its role in cancer growth and invasion. Cancer cells seek to increase their surface area [...] Read more.
The constructal law is used to improve the analysis of the resonant heat transfer in cancer cells. The result highlights the fundamental role of the volume/area ratio and its role in cancer growth and invasion. Cancer cells seek to increase their surface area to facilitate heat dissipation; as such, the tumour expansion ratio declines as malignant cells start to migrate and the cancer expands locally and systemically. Consequently, we deduce that effective anticancer therapy should be based on the control of some ion transport phenomena in an effort to increase the volume/area ratio. This emphasises restricting the local and systemic spatial expansion of the tumour system and thus gives further credence to the superior role of novel anti-migratory and anti-invasive treatment strategies over conventional anti-proliferative options only. Full article
20 pages, 8184 KiB  
Article
Surface-Modified Pore-Filled Anion-Exchange Membranes for Efficient Energy Harvesting via Reverse Electrodialysis
Membranes 2023, 13(12), 894; https://doi.org/10.3390/membranes13120894 - 30 Nov 2023
Viewed by 1133
Abstract
In this study, novel pore-filled anion-exchange membranes (PFAEMs) modified with polypyrrole (PPy) and reduced graphene oxide (rGO) were developed to improve the energy harvesting performance of reverse electrodialysis (RED). The surface-modified PFAEMs were fabricated by varying the contents of PPy and rGO through [...] Read more.
In this study, novel pore-filled anion-exchange membranes (PFAEMs) modified with polypyrrole (PPy) and reduced graphene oxide (rGO) were developed to improve the energy harvesting performance of reverse electrodialysis (RED). The surface-modified PFAEMs were fabricated by varying the contents of PPy and rGO through simple spin coating and chemical/thermal treatments. It was confirmed that the PPy and PPy/rGO layers introduced on the membrane surface did not significantly increase the electrical resistance of the membrane and could effectively control surface characteristics, such as structural tightness, hydrophilicity, and electrostatic repulsion. The PPy/rGO-modified PFAEM showed excellent monovalent ion selectivity, more than four times higher than that of the commercial membrane (AMX, Astom Corp., Tokyo, Japan). This means that the PPy/rGO layer can effectively reduce the permeation of multivalent ions with a high charge intensity and a relatively large hydration radius compared to monovalent ions. The results of evaluating the performance of the surface-modified PFAEMs by applying them to a RED cell revealed that the decrease in potential difference occurring in the membrane was reduced by effectively suppressing the uphill transport of multivalent ions. Consequently, the PPy/rGO-modified membrane exhibited a 5.43% higher power density than the AMX membrane. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Surface Modification of Ion Exchange Membranes)
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19 pages, 5937 KiB  
Article
Study on UF PES Membranes Spray-Coated with Polymerizable Bicontinuous Microemulsion Materials for Low-Fouling Behavior
Membranes 2023, 13(12), 893; https://doi.org/10.3390/membranes13120893 - 29 Nov 2023
Viewed by 1080
Abstract
The low-fouling propensity of commercially available polyethersulfone (PES) membranes was studied after modification of the membrane surface via coating with polymerizable bicontinuous microemulsion (PBM) materials. The PBM coating was polymerized within 1 min using ultraviolet (UV) light exposure. It was detected on the [...] Read more.
The low-fouling propensity of commercially available polyethersulfone (PES) membranes was studied after modification of the membrane surface via coating with polymerizable bicontinuous microemulsion (PBM) materials. The PBM coating was polymerized within 1 min using ultraviolet (UV) light exposure. It was detected on the PES membrane surface via attenuated total reflectance-Fourier transform infrared (ATR-FTIR) spectroscopy. The PBM coating led to an average 10% increase in the hydrophilicity of the PES membrane surface and an increase in total organic content (TOC) removal by more than 15%. Flux-step tests were conducted with model foulant comprising 100 mg L−1 humic acid (HA) solution to detect the onset of critical fouling, characterized by a rapid and substantial increase in TMP, and to compare the fouling propensity of commercially available PES membranes with PBM-coated membranes. The critical flux was found to be about 40% higher for PBM spray-coated membrane and 20% lower for PBM casting-coated membrane than the commercial PES membrane. This demonstrates the performance advantages of the thin PBM layer spray-coated on PES membrane compared to the thick casting-coated PBM layer. The study showcases the potential of PBM spray-coated membranes over commercial PES membranes for use in membrane bioreactors (MBR) for wastewater treatment systems with reduced maintenance over longer operation periods. Full article
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18 pages, 7491 KiB  
Article
Numerical Simulation of Membrane Separation Characteristics of Supercritical Carbon Dioxide and Water
Membranes 2023, 13(12), 892; https://doi.org/10.3390/membranes13120892 - 29 Nov 2023
Viewed by 1031
Abstract
To solve the problem of water carryover in the supercritical CO2 separation and mining process in the CO2 plume geothermal system, a three-dimensional shell-tube hollow fiber membrane absorption separator is designed in this study. A coupled species transport model, a porous [...] Read more.
To solve the problem of water carryover in the supercritical CO2 separation and mining process in the CO2 plume geothermal system, a three-dimensional shell-tube hollow fiber membrane absorption separator is designed in this study. A coupled species transport model, a porous medium model, and an absorption mathematical model are established, and the flow field and separation characteristics in the circular and flat tubes are analyzed using numerical simulation. The results show that the membrane separation efficiency increases with an increase in the flatness and membrane tube length. When the inlet velocity of the mixture is 0.1 m/s, the separation efficiency can reach 75.92%. Selecting a smaller flow Reynolds number and a more significant membrane tube flatness will reduce the water mass fraction at the outlet. When adding baffles of different shapes to the membrane tube, the mixture fluid in the membrane tube meanders forward and flows in the shape of “Z” under the blocking effect of the arcuate baffles. With an increase in the number of arcuate baffles in the membrane tube, the membrane separation efficiency of the separator increases continuously. The mixture fluid flows in the membrane tube with the built-in torsional baffles in a spiral manner, and the separation efficiency of the membrane separator increases with a torsion ratio reduction in the membrane tube. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Research Progress of Membrane Technology in Gas Separation Processes)
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12 pages, 2102 KiB  
Article
The MA Helix Is Important for Receptor Assembly and Function in the α4β2 nACh Receptor
Membranes 2023, 13(12), 891; https://doi.org/10.3390/membranes13120891 - 29 Nov 2023
Viewed by 1293
Abstract
Pentameric ligand-gated ion channels (pLGICs) are expressed throughout the central and peripheral nervous systems of vertebrates and modulate many aspects of human health and disease. Recent structural and computational data indicate that cation-selective pLGICs contain a long helical extension (MA) of one of [...] Read more.
Pentameric ligand-gated ion channels (pLGICs) are expressed throughout the central and peripheral nervous systems of vertebrates and modulate many aspects of human health and disease. Recent structural and computational data indicate that cation-selective pLGICs contain a long helical extension (MA) of one of the transmembrane helices. The MA helix has been shown to affect both the membrane expression of, and ion conductance levels through, these pLGICs. Here we probe the functional effects of 68 mutations in the MA region of the α4β2 nicotinic acetylcholine receptor (nAChR), using a voltage-sensitive membrane dye and radioligand binding to measure receptor function and expression/assembly. We found seven alanine mutations in a stretch of the MA helix that prevent correct receptor folding and/or assembly, as evidenced by the lack of both function and ligand binding. A further two alanine mutations resulted in receptors that were capable of binding ligand but showed no functional response, and we propose that, in these mutants, ligand binding is insufficient to trigger channel opening. The data clarify the effect of the MA helix, and as the effects of some of our mutations in the α4β2 nAChR differ from the effects of equivalent mutations in other cation-selective pLGICs, we suggest that residues in the MA helix may play subtly different roles in different receptors. Full article
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18 pages, 3882 KiB  
Article
A Novel Composite Voltammetric Sensor Based on Yttria-Stabilized Zirconia Doped with Neodymium-Carbon Black-Nafion Glassy Carbon Electrode for Metoprolol Determination
Membranes 2023, 13(12), 890; https://doi.org/10.3390/membranes13120890 - 28 Nov 2023
Viewed by 1038
Abstract
For the first time, a new composite voltammetric sensor based on yttria-stabilized zirconia doped with neodymium-carbon black-Nafion glassy carbon electrode (YSZNd-CB-Nafion/GCE) for the determination of metoprolol (MET) has been developed. The instrumental parameters and supporting electrolyte were optimized. For 105 s accumulation time, [...] Read more.
For the first time, a new composite voltammetric sensor based on yttria-stabilized zirconia doped with neodymium-carbon black-Nafion glassy carbon electrode (YSZNd-CB-Nafion/GCE) for the determination of metoprolol (MET) has been developed. The instrumental parameters and supporting electrolyte were optimized. For 105 s accumulation time, linearity was achieved in the range of 0.01 to 0.2 µM. The limit of detection (for 105 s accumulation time) was equal to 2.9 nM (2 µg/L), and was the best result in comparison to other voltametric sensors. The reproducibility of the metoprolol signal presented as relative standard deviation (RSD) was equal to 1.9% (n = 7). Additionally, our electrode is characterized by high stability, is easy to use, and has a short preparation time. The proposed sensor was found useful for MET determination in plasma and urine, as well as for pharmaceutical samples, with a good recovery parameter (96–108%). Flow injection analysis (FIA) with amperometric detection was also performed for MET determination. The recovery was calculated and was in the range 101–103%, suggesting that the proposed material may be applied in flow injection analysis. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Nanomaterials-Based Membrane Sensors)
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24 pages, 6491 KiB  
Article
Cleaner Biofuel Production via Process Parametric Optimization of Nonedible Feedstock in a Membrane Reactor Using a Titania-Based Heterogeneous Nanocatalyst: An Aid to Sustainable Energy Development
Membranes 2023, 13(12), 889; https://doi.org/10.3390/membranes13120889 - 27 Nov 2023
Viewed by 1400
Abstract
Membrane technology has been embraced as a feasible and suitable substitute for conventional time- and energy-intensive biodiesel synthesis processes. It is ecofriendly, easier to run and regulate, and requires less energy than conventional approaches, with excellent stability. Therefore, the present study involved the [...] Read more.
Membrane technology has been embraced as a feasible and suitable substitute for conventional time- and energy-intensive biodiesel synthesis processes. It is ecofriendly, easier to run and regulate, and requires less energy than conventional approaches, with excellent stability. Therefore, the present study involved the synthesis and application of a highly reactive and recyclable Titania-based heterogeneous nanocatalyst (TiO2) for biodiesel production from nonedible Azadhiracta indica seed oil via a membrane reactor, since Azadhiracta indica is easily and widely accessible and has a rich oil content (39% w/w). The high free fatty acids content (6.52 mg/g KOH) of the nonedible oil was decreased to less than 1% via two-step esterification. Following the esterification, transesterification was performed using a heterogeneous TiO2 nanocatalyst under optimum conditions, such as a 9:1 methanol–oil molar ratio, 90 °C reaction temperature, 2 wt.% catalyst loading, and an agitation rate of 600 rpm, and the biodiesel yield was optimized through response surface methodology (RSM). Azadhiracta indica seed oil contains 68.98% unsaturated (61.01% oleic acid, 8.97% linoleic acid) and 31.02% saturated fatty acids (15.91% palmitic acid, 15.11% stearic acid). These fatty acids transformed into respective methyl esters, with a total yield up to 95% achieved. The biodiesel was analyzed via advanced characterization techniques like gas chromatography–mass spectrometry (GC-MS), Fourier transform infrared spectroscopy (FT-IR), and nuclear magnetic resonance (NMR), whereas the catalyst was characterized via X-ray diffraction (XRD), scanning electron microscopy (SEM), energy-dispersive X-ray (EDX), and Fourier transform infrared spectroscopy (FT-IR). Due to its physicochemical properties, Azadirachta indica seed oil is a highly recommended feedstock for biodiesel production. Moreover, it is concluded that the Titania-based heterogeneous nanocatalyst (TiO2) is effective for high-quality liquid fuel synthesis from nonedible Azadirachta indica seed oil in a membrane reactor, which could be an optional green route to cleaner production of bioenergy, eventually leading to sustenance, robustness, and resilience that will aid in developing a holistic framework for integrated waste management. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Advanced Membrane (Bio)Reactors)
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17 pages, 8117 KiB  
Article
Heterogeneous Anion-Exchange Membranes with Enhanced Ion Conductivity for Continuous Electrodeionization
Membranes 2023, 13(12), 888; https://doi.org/10.3390/membranes13120888 - 27 Nov 2023
Viewed by 1522
Abstract
In this study, the optimal fabrication parameters of a heterogeneous anion-exchange membrane (AEM) using an ionomer binder are investigated to improve the performance of continuous electrodeionization (CEDI) for producing ultrapure water. Poly(2,6-dimethyl-1,4-phenylene oxide) (PPO) is selected as the base material for preparing the [...] Read more.
In this study, the optimal fabrication parameters of a heterogeneous anion-exchange membrane (AEM) using an ionomer binder are investigated to improve the performance of continuous electrodeionization (CEDI) for producing ultrapure water. Poly(2,6-dimethyl-1,4-phenylene oxide) (PPO) is selected as the base material for preparing the ionomer binder and quaternized to have various ion exchange capacities (IECs). The optimal content of ion-exchange resin (IER) powder according to the IEC of the ionomer binder is then determined through systematic analyses. In conclusion, it is revealed that a heterogeneous AEM with optimal performance can be fabricated when the IEC of the ionomer binder is lowered and the content of IER powder is also lower than that of conventional heterogeneous membranes. Moreover, crosslinked quaternized PPO (QPPO) nanofiber powder is used as an additive to improve ion conductivity without deteriorating the mechanical properties of the membrane. The membrane fabricated under optimal conditions exhibits significantly lower electrical resistance (4.6 Ω cm2) despite a low IER content (30 wt%) compared to the commercial membrane (IONAC MA-3475, 13.6 Ω cm2) while also demonstrating moderate tensile strength (9.7 MPa) and a high transport number (ca. 0.97). Furthermore, it is proven that the prepared membrane exhibits a superior ion removal rate (99.86%) and lower energy consumption (0.35 kWh) compared to the commercial membrane (99.76% and 0.4 kWh, respectively) in CEDI experiments. Full article
(This article belongs to the Section Polymeric Membranes)
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18 pages, 5864 KiB  
Article
Polyvinyl Alcohol/Nafion®–Zirconia Phosphate Nanocomposite Membranes for Polymer Electrolyte Membrane Fuel Cell Applications: Synthesis and Characterisation
Membranes 2023, 13(12), 887; https://doi.org/10.3390/membranes13120887 - 23 Nov 2023
Viewed by 1352
Abstract
PVA (polyvinyl alcohol)-ZrP (PVA/ZrP) and Nafion®/PVA-ZrP nanocomposite membranes were synthesised using the recasting method with glutaraldehyde (GA) as a crosslinking agent. The resulting nanocomposite membranes were characterised using a variety of techniques, including X-ray diffraction (XRD), scanning electron microscopy (SEM), and [...] Read more.
PVA (polyvinyl alcohol)-ZrP (PVA/ZrP) and Nafion®/PVA-ZrP nanocomposite membranes were synthesised using the recasting method with glutaraldehyde (GA) as a crosslinking agent. The resulting nanocomposite membranes were characterised using a variety of techniques, including X-ray diffraction (XRD), scanning electron microscopy (SEM), and Fourier transform infrared spectroscopy (FTIR). The results of SEM revealed well-distributed zirconia phosphate (ZrP) within the membrane matrix, and the SEM images showed a uniform and dense membrane structure. Because ZrP nanoparticles are hydrophilic, the Nafion®/PVA-ZrP nanocomposite membrane had a higher water uptake of 53% at 80 °C and higher 0.19 S/cm proton conductivity at room temperature than the commercial Nafion® 117 membrane, which had only 34% and 0.113 S/cm, respectively. In comparison to commercial Nafion® 117 membranes, PVA-ZrP and Nafion®/PVA-ZrP nanocomposite membranes had a higher thermal stability and mechanical strength and lower methanol crossover due to the hydrophilic effect of PVA crosslinked with GA, which can make strong hydrogen bonds and cause an intense intramolecular interaction. Full article
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17 pages, 2921 KiB  
Article
pH-Dependent Adsorption of Human Serum Albumin Protein on a Polystyrene-Block–Poly(acrylic acid)-Coated PVDF Membrane
Membranes 2023, 13(12), 886; https://doi.org/10.3390/membranes13120886 - 22 Nov 2023
Viewed by 1351
Abstract
This study reports the investigation of human serum albumin (HSA) adsorption on a poy-styrene-block–poly(acrylic acid) (PS-b-PAA)-coated PVDF membrane, which is a potential smart material for biomedical applications. First, copolymer coating on the membrane surface was successfully performed, due to the hydrophobic interaction of [...] Read more.
This study reports the investigation of human serum albumin (HSA) adsorption on a poy-styrene-block–poly(acrylic acid) (PS-b-PAA)-coated PVDF membrane, which is a potential smart material for biomedical applications. First, copolymer coating on the membrane surface was successfully performed, due to the hydrophobic interaction of the PS anchoring group with the PVDF membrane. This was confirmed by Fourier transform infrared spectroscopy (FTIR) characterization of the membrane. Then, HSA adsorption onto the coated membrane was assessed and was proved to be strongly dependent on the pH of the protein solution. Indeed, both FTIR mapping and mass balance calculation using UV–visible spectroscopy displayed a greater HSA adsorption on the membrane at pH 5, even though it still took place at higher pH, but to a lower extent. Afterwards, an ionic strength influence study evinced the role of electrostatic interactions between HSA and the PAA layer on HSA adsorption. Dead-end filtration of HSA through the coated membrane confirmed the pH dependence of HSA adsorption on the coated membrane. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Application of Advanced Membrane Materials in Bioseparation)
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