Temperature effects on the morphology of porous thin film composite nanofiltration membranes. Academic Article uri icon


  • Even though polymeric nanofiltration (NF) and reverse osmosis (RO) membranes often operate on surface waters and surficial groundwaters whose temperature varies over time and with season, very little detailed mechanistic information on temperature effects on membrane selectivity is available to date. Hence, a study was undertaken to investigate the effects of operating temperature (5-41 degrees C) on the morphology and structure of two commercially available thin film composite NF membranes. Application of hydrodynamic models to experimental rejection of dilute solutions of hydrophilic neutral alcohols, sugars, and poly(ethylene glycol)s revealed changes in both the sieving coefficient and permeability of solutes below the membrane glass transition temperature. The vast majority of pores were smaller than 2 nm for both membranes (network pores) even though evidence for a small fraction of larger aggregate pores (approximately 30 nm) was also obtained for one membrane. Increasing temperature appears to cause structural changes in network pores by increasing its pore size while simultaneously decreasing pore density. These increases in pore sizes partially explain reported reductions in contaminant (e.g. arsenic, salts, natural organic matter, hardness, etc.) removal by NF and RO membranes with increasing temperature.

published proceedings

  • Environ Sci Technol

author list (cited authors)

  • Sharma, R. R., & Chellam, S.

citation count

  • 69

complete list of authors

  • Sharma, Ramesh R||Chellam, Shankararaman

publication date

  • July 2005