Composite membranes of cellulose–mesoporous silica: optimization of membrane fabrication and adsorption capacity

Simin Miri, Anthony De Girolamo, Humayun Nadeem, Benjamin Wey Xien Chin, Yvonne Hora, Philip C. Andrews, Warren Batchelor

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

4 Citations (Scopus)


In this work, we produced composites of mesoporous silica synthesized in-situ on never-dried bleached eucalyptus kraft pulp fibers with the aim of providing cost-effective depth filters, having high flux, and adsorptivity. The mesoporous silica loading for the produced samples was in the range of 12–35 wt%. The performance of double-layer membranes was studied for the adsorption of charged molecules. The best nanofibrillated cellulose-pulp-mesoporous silica membrane adsorbed 1160 mg/m2 of methylene blue and had a flux of 10 L m−2 h−1 bar−1. The nanofibrillated cellulose layer supported the pulp-mesoporous silica layer and improved the adsorptivity of the pulp-mesoporous silica depth filter layer by controlling flux. The membranes showed non-linear-pseudo-first-order adsorption kinetics and non-linear Freundlich isotherm for methylene blue adsorption. The nanofibrillated cellulose-pulp-mesoporous silica membrane was modified for metanil yellow adsorption by adding polyamide amine-epichlorohydrin resin. The best metanil yellow saturated adsorption capacity was 9400 mg/m2. The nanofibrillated cellulose-pulp-mesoporous silica depth filter without modification with a polyelectrolyte also had 92% and 94% heavy metal removal of 20 mg of Cu2+ and Pb2+ ions, respectively. The novel pulp-mesoporous silica composite membrane, with high adsorption capacity and manufactured by lower embodied energy of cellulose fiber, can significantly lower large-scale depth filter production costs due to the elimination of cellulose pre-treatment for the depth filter layer. The reusability performance in the fifth cycle, after four cycles of metanil yellow adsorption and desorption, was 5.2 mg/g, which was stabilized from the 3rd to 5th cycles. This suggests the suitability of these membranes for industrial applications.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)339–357
Number of pages19
Publication statusPublished - Jan 2023


  • Adsorption
  • Cellulose
  • Composite membrane
  • Depth filtration
  • Mesoporous silica
  • Pulp

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