Solvent and pH Stability of Poly(styrene-alt-maleic acid) (PSaMA) Membranes Prepared by Aqueous Phase Separation (APS)

Wouter M. Nielen, Joshua D. Willott, Wiebe M. de Vos*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

2 Citations (Scopus)
59 Downloads (Pure)


In the single-polyelectrolyte aqueous phase separation (APS) approach, membranes are prepared by precipitating a weak polyelectrolyte from a concentrated aqueous solution using a pH switch. This has proven to be a versatile and more sustainable method compared to conventional approaches as it significantly reduces the use of organic solvents. Poly(styrene-alt-maleic acid) (PSaMA) is a polymer that has been extensively investigated for APS and has been the basis for both open and dense membranes with good performances. These membranes are chemically crosslinked and, in this work, we further investigated ultrafiltration (UF) and nanofiltration (NF) membranes prepared with PSaMA for their stability in various organic solvents and under different pH conditions. It was shown that these membranes had stable performances in both isopropanol (IPA) and toluene, and a slightly reduced performance in N-methyl-2-pyrollidone (NMP). However, PSaMA did not perform well as a selective layer in these solvents, indicating that the real opportunity would be to use the UF-type PSaMA membranes as solvent-stable support membranes. Additionally, the membranes proved to be stable in an acidic-to-neutral pH regime (pH 2–7); and, due to the pH-responsive nature of PSaMA, for the NF membranes, a pH-dependent retention of Mg2+ and SO42− ions was observed and, for the UF membranes, a strong responsive behavior was observed, where the pH can be used to control the membrane permeability. However, long-term exposure to elevated pH conditions (pH 8–10) resulted in severe swelling of the NF membranes, resulting in defect formation, and compaction of the UF membranes. For the UF membranes, this compaction did prove to be reversible for some but not all of the membrane samples measured. These results showed that in aqueous systems, membranes prepared with PSaMA had interesting responsive behaviors but performed best at neutral and acidic pH values. Moreover, the membranes exhibited excellent stability in the organic solvents IPA and toluene
Original languageEnglish
Article number835
Issue number11
Publication statusPublished - 29 Oct 2021


  • UT-Gold-D


Dive into the research topics of 'Solvent and pH Stability of Poly(styrene-alt-maleic acid) (PSaMA) Membranes Prepared by Aqueous Phase Separation (APS)'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this