Document Type

Journal Article

Publication Title







School of Engineering


Australian Research Council / AMP Foundation

Grant Number

ARC Number : G1005399


Farahbakhsh, J., Golgoli, M., Khiadani, M., Razmjou, A., & Zargar, M. (2024). Microplastics fouling mitigation in forward osmosis membranes by the molecular assembly of sulfobetaine zwitterion. Desalination, 575, article 117300.


Forward osmosis (FO) membranes have potential for the efficient water and wastewater treatment applications. However, their development has faced significant challenges due to their fouling propensity. In this study, FO membranes modified with sulfobetaine zwitterions (i.e., [2-(Methacryloyloxy)ethyl]dimethyl-(3-sulfopropyl) ammonium hydroxide) were fabricated and used for the first time to address microplastic (MP) fouling issue. Water flux, reverse salt flux (RSF), fouling, and flux recovery were evaluated for the membranes loaded with different quantities of the zwitterions ranging from 0.25 % to 2 %. The developed membranes were tested over 49 h with feed solutions containing polyethylene MPs and bovine serum albumin (BSA) to evaluate their fouling resistance. The synergistic effects of the two foulants indicated that the MPs were the primary cause of fouling. The presence of BSA effectively reduced the blocking effect of MPs and therefore lowers overall fouling. Additionally, improved water flux, structural parameter (S), and RSF were reported for the modified membranes. The zwitterion's unique structure with hydrophilic groups (C[dbnd]O and O[dbnd]S[dbnd]O) resulted in high flux recovery rates of over 90 % for all modified membranes within only 30 min of physical cleaning upon fouling tests. The results demonstrate the high potential of the modification method for targeting the removal of MPs in TFC-based membranes.



Creative Commons License

Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 4.0 License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 4.0 License.