Molecular separation using poly (styrene-co-maleic anhydride) grafted to γ-alumina: Surface versus pore modification

Mohammad Amirilargani*, Renaud B. Merlet, Liangyong Chu, Arian Nijmeijer, Louis Winnubst, Louis C.P.M. de Smet, Ernst J.R. Sudhölter

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

2 Citations (Scopus)


Here, we report the covalent coupling of poly (styrene-co-maleic anhydride) onto γ-alumina to develop high-performance organic solvent nanofiltration (OSN) membranes. A high molecular weight (M w ) alternating copolymer of maleic anhydride (MA) and styrene (St) was synthesized and directly grafted to the γ-alumina membrane, while commercially available low M w random copolymers of St and MA were also investigated. We show that solute rejection and membrane permeability strongly depend on the nature of the applied copolymer. In particular, the M w of the copolymer applied is potentially the key for improving the membrane performance. When a high M w copolymer was applied, the grafted layer covered the surface of the membrane. This results in membranes with significantly improved rejection, while maintaining a high permeability. In contrast, we observed pore grafting by applying low M w copolymers, which resulted in membranes with slightly higher rejection and dramatically lower permeability compared to unmodified membrane. The best results were obtained by grafting γ-alumina with a high M w alternating copolymer. These membranes showed a solute rejection of 98% for Sudan Black B (457 g mol −1 ) in toluene, while the permeability remained high at 2.9 L m −2 h −1 bar −1 .

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)298-306
JournalJournal of Membrane Science
Publication statusPublished - 15 Jul 2019


  • Alumina membrane
  • Copolymer grafting
  • Molecular separation
  • Pore modification
  • Surface modification

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