On the long-term pH stability of polyelectrolyte multilayer nanofiltration membranes

M. G. Elshof, W. M. de Vos, J. de Grooth, N. E. Benes*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

56 Citations (Scopus)
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Long-term pH stability is critical for nanofiltration membranes in many applications, e.g. dairy and mining industry. We present a systematic study on the long-term pH stability of four different polyelectrolyte multilayer (PEM) nanofiltration membranes. The stability was assessed by comparing their performance before and after exposure to up to 1 M HNO3 (~pH 0) and 1 M NaOH (~pH 14), in terms of pure water permeance (PWP), salt retention, and molecular weight cut-off (MWCO). Poly(diallyldimethylammonium chloride) (PDADMAC)/poly(styrenesulfonate) (PSS) nanofiltration membranes show excellent stability under extreme acidic and basic conditions for more than 2 months (10.7 L m−2h−1bar−1 PWP, 95.5% MgSO4 retention, 279 g mol−1 MWCO), attributed to the use of strong polyelectrolytes, of which the charge is unaffected by pH. Poly(allylamine hydrochloride) (PAH)/PSS membranes show stable performance when exposed to extreme acidic conditions (9.7 L m−2h−1bar−1 PWP, 97.5% MgSO4 retention, 249 g mol−1 MWCO). Under these conditions, PAH remains charged and therefore a stable multilayer is maintained. PDADMAC/poly(acrylic acid) (PAA) and PAH/PAA membranes are not stable at extreme pH conditions. These results highlight that PEM nanofiltration membranes, especially PDADMAC/PSS membranes, have tremendous potential for use at extreme pH conditions. Compared to most commercially available membranes they have superior long-term stability and very relevant performance.

Original languageEnglish
Article number118532
JournalJournal of membrane science
Publication statusPublished - 1 Dec 2020


  • UT-Hybrid-D
  • pH stable
  • Polyelectrolyte multilayer
  • Nanofiltration membrane


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