Novel Positively Charged Metal-Coordinated Nanofiltration Membrane for Lithium Recovery

Li Wang, Danyal Rehman, Peng Fei Sun, Akshay Deshmukh, Liyuan Zhang, Qi Han, Zhe Yang, Zhongying Wang, Hee Deung Park, John H. Lienhard, Chuyang Y. Tang

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

81 Citations (Scopus)


Nanofiltration (NF) with high water flux and precise separation performance with high Li+/Mg2+ selectivity is ideal for lithium brine recovery. However, conventional polyamide-based commercial NF membranes are ineffective in lithium recovery processes due to their undesired Li+/Mg2+ selectivity. In addition, they are constrained by the water permeance selectivity trade-off, which means that a highly permeable membrane often has lower selectivity. In this study, we developed a novel nonpolyamide NF membrane based on metal-coordinated structure, which exhibits simultaneously improved water permeance and Li+/Mg2+ selectivity. Specifically, the optimized Cu-m-phenylenediamine (MPD) membrane demonstrated a high water permeance of 16.2 ± 2.7 LMH/bar and a high Li+/Mg2+ selectivity of 8.0 ± 1.0, which surpassed the trade-off of permeance selectivity. Meanwhile, the existence of copper in the Cu-MPD membrane further enhanced anti-biofouling property and the metal-coordinated nanofiltration membrane possesses a pH-responsive property. Finally, a transport model based on the Nernst-Planck equations has been developed to fit the water flux and rejection of uncharged solutes to the experiments conducted. The model had a deviation below 2% for all experiments performed and suggested an average pore radius of 1.25 nm with a porosity of 21% for the Cu-MPD membrane. Overall, our study provides an exciting approach for fabricating a nonpolyamide high-performance nanofiltration membrane in the context of lithium recovery.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)16906-16915
Number of pages10
JournalACS Applied Materials and Interfaces
Issue number14
Publication statusPublished - 2021 Apr 14

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2021 American Chemical Society.


  • Cu-MPD
  • antimicrobial properties
  • high permeance and high selectivity
  • lithium recovery
  • nanofiltration
  • pH-responsive

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Materials Science


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