High-performance and durable pressure retarded osmosis membranes fabricated using hydrophilized polyethylene separators

Soon Jin Kwon, Kiho Park, Dal Yong Kim, Min Zhan, Seungkwan Hong, Jung Hyun Lee

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

37 Citations (Scopus)


A high-performance and durable thin-film composite (TFC) pressure retarded osmosis (PRO) membrane was fabricated using a polyvinyl alcohol (PVA)-coated polyethylene (PAPE) support via toluene-assisted interfacial polymerization (TIP). The PVA coating uniformly hydrophilized the extremely thin (~8 μm) polyethylene (PE) support with a highly porous structure while marginally deforming the support structure, resulting in a very low structural parameter (~235 μm). The TIP process produced a polyamide selective layer with remarkably higher water permeability (~8.78 L m−2 h−1 bar−1) than those of commercial HTI membranes (0.56–1.40 L m−2 h−1 bar−1). Furthermore, despite its extreme thinness, the PAPE-supported TFC (PAPE-TFC) membrane had higher mechanical properties than the commercial membranes owing to the superior mechanical strength of its PE support. Hence, the PAPE-TFC membrane achieved an unprecedentedly high power density of ~35.7 W m−2 at an applied pressure of 20 bar using a deionized water feed solution and a 1.0 M NaCl draw solution, which significantly outperformed commercial and any other reported lab-made PRO membranes. The mechanically robust PAPE-TFC membrane also enabled stable long-term PRO operation under high pressure conditions.

Original languageEnglish
Article number118796
JournalJournal of Membrane Science
Publication statusPublished - 2021 Feb 1

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This research was supported by the National Research Foundation of Korea (NRF) grant funded by the Korean government ( 2019R1A2C1002333 , 2019M3E6A1064103 and 2018R1A4A1022194 ).


  • Interfacial polymerization
  • Polyethylene
  • Polyvinyl alcohol
  • Pressure retarded osmosis
  • Thin-film composite membrane

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry
  • General Materials Science
  • Physical and Theoretical Chemistry
  • Filtration and Separation


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