Wednesday February 3rd 4:00 PM (CET)
Title: Sustainable Membrane Production through Polyelectrolyte Complexation Induced Aqueous Phase Separation
Presenter: Muhammad Irshad Baig
Affiliation: Membrane Surface Science, University of Twente, The Netherlands
Nonsolvent induced phase separation (NIPS) is the most common approach to produce polymeric membranes. Unfortunately, NIPS relies heavily on aprotic organic solvents like N‐
methyl‐pyrrolidone to produce the membranes. These solvents are unsustainable, repro‐toxic for humans and have therefore been restricted within the European Union [1]. A new and sustainable method, aqueous phase separation (APS), is presented that eliminates the use of organic solvents. Polymeric membranes can be prepared entirely in water using this new APS method. A homogeneous solution of two polyelectrolytes, the strong polyanion poly(sodium 4‐styrenesulfonate) (PSS) and the weak polycation poly(allylamine hydrochloride) (PAH), is prepared at high pH, where PAH is uncharged. Immersing a film of this solution in a low pH bath charges the PAH and results in the formation of a porous, water-insoluble polyelectrolyte complex. The rate of precipitation can be controlled by a number of parameters for instance, polyelectrolyte solution concentration and pH of the bath. The pore sizes can be tuned from micrometers to just a few nanometers, and even to dense films, simply by tuning the
polyelectrolyte concentrations, molecular weights, and the salinity of the bath. This leads to excellent examples of microfiltration, ultrafiltration, and nanofiltration type membranes.
Similarly, using different types of polyelectrolytes it is possible to produce polymeric membranes in mild pH conditions. A mixture of PSS and Polyethyleneimine (PEI) can be cast at pH 4 to obtain dense nanofiltration type membranes with molecular weight cut-off ~200 g·mol–1. Polyelectrolyte complexation induced APS is indeed a viable and sustainable approach to membrane production that provides excellent control over membrane properties and even allows new types of separations.

In memoriam Prof. C.A. (Kees) Smolders


The EMS mourns the loss of Professor Kees Smolders, Honorary Member of our Society since 1991, who passed away on 4 January 2021 at the age of 90.


Kees Smolders was a true pioneer in the field of Membrane Technology. He worked as a full professor between 1969 and 1991 at the THT (‘Technische Hogeschool Twente’), renamed to UT (University of Twente) in 1986. While he started out as a professor in Colloid and Interface Chemistry, he was one of the first in the Netherlands to focus on a new field: the field of membranes. He was unique in his persuasiveness, making many others, scientists and businesses alike, enthusiastic for a field of science that was very new at the time. He quickly became a leading scientist in this field, especially through his work on understanding phase inversion that still has a high number of citations to this day. Kees Smolders was one of the first professors to co-operate with companies actively: he was, for example, actively involved in the start-up of X-Flow in the eighties, helping the UT to establish itself as the entrepreneurial university that it is today. Kees Smolders supervised nearly 40 PhD students. The research that he started more than 50 years ago is still actively continued at the UT within the current Membrane Science and Technology (MST) cluster.

After his retirement, he picked up painting, using acrylates, and later he also took up bronze sculpting. In 2016, Kees Smolders donated one of his works of art, appropriately named “The Science Ladder”, to the UT, which is still proudly exhibited in one of the University buildings. The sculpture shows a small man climbing up a double DNA helix. Kees Smolders described it in his own words: “It shows how you can grow in science. Scientists always want to climb to the top, to build up the best reputation.”

Professor Kees Smolders will be remembered a visionary scientist and one of the initiators of membrane research in Europe. The EMS whishes his family, friends and the Membrane Science and Technology cluster at the University of Twente all strength to deal with this loss.

PhD position, Development of nanofiltration membranes for selective ion recovery, Eindhoven University of Technology (Netherlands)

Location: Eindhoven (Netherlands)

Type: PhD position, fixed-term employment

Within our group Membrane Materials and Processes at the Eindhoven University of Technology (NL) we have a vacancy for a PhD position on the development of nanofiltration membranes for selective ion recovery. We are especially looking for candidates with a solid background in chemistry/chemical engineering combined with a proven hands-on mentality.

More information about this position can be found at:


Contact: Prof. dr. ir. Kitty Nijmeijer

Chair Membrane Materials & Processes
Vice-dean of the department of
Chemical Engineering and Chemistry
Eindhoven University of Technology
d.c.nijmeijer@tue.nl | www.tue.nl/mmp

Share this

Best Paper Award

Best Paper Award 2020

The Award (1000€ plus a certificate) is for the best original journal paper on Membrane Science and Engineering published during 2019 and 2018.

New deadline: May 29th 2020, 5:00 PM Paris time


The Award is intended for original journal papers (review papers are not eligible). Candidates must be EMS members and the major contributors to the paper (the first and/or corresponding author). Candidates must be under 35 years at the deadline for submission.

UPDATE – Coronavirus

If you have any trouble, associated to the coronavirus emergency or other issues, in retrieving all the necessary documents for application, please let us know and we will evaluate your case singularly.

NEW Deadline:

May 29th 2020, 5:00 PM Paris time.



Candidates should submit:

  • a copy of their paper
  • a proof of their Student or Young Academic* status, such as Student Card or PhD certificate
  • a cover letter detailing in less than 150 words the scientific quality, originality and impact of the publication, the personal contribution and any other detail useful for the evaluation of the work
  • a statement signed by all authors indicating that the applicant is the major contributor to the paper
  • a proof of EMS membership

Proposals will be selected against their scientific quality, originality and impact by the EMS council members.

Any conflict of interest between the contestants and the evaluators will be avoided.
The Council reserves the right to decide the number of prizes to award.

Nominations will be reviewed by a panel of referees with final decisions made by the EMS Council.