Block Polymer Composite Membranes For High-affinity Detection & Capture Of Heavy Metal Contaminants

Tech ID: 19-018

Inventors: Yizhou Zhang, Dr. William Phillip, Dr. Matthew Webber, Dr. Bryan Boudouris (Purdue)

Date Added: August 22, 2019


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A new membrane manufacturing process for liquid filtration that can be customized to select for different targets. 

Technology Summary

Liquid filtration relies on a variety of filtration membranes that are used to capture metals, plastics, microorganisms, and more. Current filtration solutions have a number of drawbacks. There are large energy requirements in order to create a high pressure gradient for reverse osmosis processes. Additionally, competing ions negatively affect membranes’ ability to target molecules. 

University of Notre Dame and Purdue University researchers have developed a new membrane manufacturing process that results in a template for flat-sheet adsorptive membranes that can be customized to select for different targets. The surface chemistry of the pore walls can be altered such that specific dissolved solids will adhere to them. Increased affinity to target molecules enables the capture of molecules at lower concentrations and in the presence of interfering molecules. This manufacturing process has been proven by applying its use to heavy metal filtration. Developed membranes exhibit high affinity and selectivity to heavy metals while allowing competing ions to pass through unaffected. They are 5000 times more permeable than comparable heavy metal filtration solutions enabling filters to be made smaller and perform faster.

Market Advantages 

  • Membranes designed to work in low-pressure systems, lowering energy costs when compared to high-pressure filtration systems.
  • High permeability enables filters to be made smaller and perform faster.
  • Customizable for applications in various industries 

Technology Readiness Status

TRL 4 - Lab Validation

Intellectual Property

US 62/752482 (Polymer Porous Membranes and Method of Manufacture)


High-Affinity Detection and Capture of Heavy Metal Contaminants using Block Polymer Composite Membranes
doi: 10.1021/acscentsci.8b00690


Richard Cox