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

56 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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