Waterborne nanocellulose coatings for improving the antifouling and antibacterial properties of polyethersulfone membranes

Andrea Aguilar-Sanchez, Blanca Jalvo, Andreas Mautner, Samer Nameer, Tiina Pöhler, Tekla Tammelin, Aji P. Mathew (Corresponding Author)

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

21 Citations (Scopus)


This article presents a waterborne nanocellulose coating process to change the surface characteristics and mitigate fouling of commercially available polyethersulfone (PES) microfiltration membranes. An extensive comparative study between nanoporous and nano-textured layers composed of cellulose nanocrystals (CNC) or TEMPO-oxidized cellulose nanofibrils (T-CNF), which were coated on the PES membrane by taking advantage of the electrostatic interactions between the PES substrate, a polyallylamine hydrochloride (PAHCl) anchoring layer, and the nanocellulose functional layer. Coated PES membranes exhibited decreased surface roughness and pore sizes as well as rejection of compounds with a M w above 150 kDa, while the water permeability and mechanical properties of remained largely unaffected. The coatings improved the wettability as confirmed by a reduction of the contact angle by up to 52% and exhibited a higher negative surface charge compared to the uncoated membranes over a pH range of 4–8. A significant reduction in organic fouling was observed for the coated membranes demonstrated by bovine serum albumin (BSA) adsorption studies on T-CNF and CNC surfaces using Quartz Crystal Microbalance with Dissipation monitoring (QCM-D), UV–vis spectroscopy and FTIR mapping after exposing the membranes to dynamic adsorption of BSA. The T-CNF coating exhibited effective antibacterial action against Escherichia coli (E. coli) attributed to the pH reduction effect induced by the carboxyl groups; while CNC coatings did not show this property. This work demonstrates a simple, green, and easy-to-scale layer-by-layer coating process to tune the membrane rejection and to improve antifouling and antibacterial properties of commercially available membranes.

Original languageEnglish
Article number118842
JournalJournal of Membrane Science
Publication statusPublished - 15 Feb 2021
MoE publication typeA1 Journal article-refereed


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