Year of Publication


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Document Type





Chemical Engineering

First Advisor

Dr. Dibakar Bhattacharyya


Functionalized membranes provide an elegant platform for selective separations and sorptions. In this dissertation, application of functionalized membranes for surfactant and metal sorption studies are discussed. Sorption behavior of surfactants is also studied using quartz crystal microbalance (QCM) and other techniques.

Adsorption of the ethoxylated surfactants on polymeric materials (cotton and polyester) and model gold surface was quantified from a non-aqueous siloxane based solvent (D5) and water. The role of ethylene oxide group and the effect of nature of polymeric materials on adsorption behavior was quantified and established. In the case of gold-water interface, the adsorption data was fitted to calculate adsorption/desorption rate constants. The study is important towards applications involving use of the surfactants in cleaning operations. PAA functionalized membranes were prepared and used for separation of the surfactants from the siloxane solvent. Finally the pH sensitivity of the PAA-surfactant complex was verified by successful regeneration of the membrane on permeation of slightly alkaline water.

The preparation and application of thiol and sulfonic acid functionalized silica mixed matrix membranes for aqueous phase metal ion sorption is also studied. The functionalized particles were used as the dispersed phase in the polysulfone or cellulose acetate polymer matrix. The effects of the silica properties such as particle size, specific surface area, and porous/nonporous morphology on the metal ion sorption capacity were studied. Silver and ferrous ions were studied for metal sorption capacities. The ferrous ions were further reduced to prepare membrane immobilized iron nanoparticles which are attractive for catalytic applications.

One dimensional unsteady state model with overall volumetric mass transfer coefficient was developed to model the metal ion sorption using mixed matrix membrane. The study demonstrates successful application of the functionalized mixed matrix membranes for aqueous phase metal capture with high capacity at low transmembrane pressures. The technique can be easily extended to other applications by altering the functionalized groups on the silica particles. The study is important towards water treatment applications and preparation of membrane immobilized metal nanoparticles for catalytic applications.