Modified alumina nanofiber membranes for protein separation
Ke X., Huang Y., Dargaville TR., Fan Y., Cui Z., Zhu H.
Large-scale purification/separation of bio-substances is a key technology required for rapid production of biological substances in bioengineering. Membrane filtration is a new separation process and has potential to be used for concentration (removal of solvent), desalting (removal of low molecular weight compounds), clarification (removal of particles), and fractionation (protein-protein separation). In this study, we developed an efficient membrane for protein separation based on ceramic nanofibers. Alumina nanofibers were prepared on a porous support and formed large flow passages. The radical changes in membrane structure provided new ceramic membranes with a large porosity (more than 70%) due to the replacement of bulk particles with fine fibers as building components. The pore size had an average of 11 nm and pure water flux was approximately 360 L h-1 m-2 bar-1. Further surface modification with a self-assembled monolayer of (3-aminopropyl) triethoxysilane enhanced the membrane filtration properties. Characterization with SEM, FTIR, contact angle, and proteins separation tests indicated that the fibril layers uniformly spread on the surface of the porous support. Moreover, the membrane surface was changed from hydrophilic to hydrophobic after silane groups were grafted. It demonstrated that the silane-grafted alumina fiber membrane can reject 100% BSA protein and 92% cellulase protein. It was also able to retain 75% trypsin protein while maintaining a permeation flux of 48 L h-1 m-2 bar-1. © 2013 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.