Master's thesis: Modification of Polysulfone membranes for immobilization of Aquaporins at Aquaporin A/S

Aquaporin A/S develops a new generation of biomimetic separation membranes based on highly water-permeable and salt-rejecting aquaporin proteins. Aquaporin membranes are used predominantly in reverse osmosis and forward osmosis applications spanning broad range of industrial fields, where high water flux and excellent solute rejection are of utmost importance. Maintained stability and activity of the aquaporin protein after incorporation into the biomimetic membrane is therefore essential for meeting the need of outstanding performance.

Objective and project description:

Your main objective in this project will be to explore a completely new way of incorporating aquaporin proteins into biomimetic membranes. Specifically, with a biomimicry approach you will focus on surface modifications of polysulfone support membranes to enhance protein immobilization, stabilization, and activity – targeting to yield a high-performing aquaporin-based membrane. First, you will establish a methodology to precisely tailor the membrane surface to mimic the properties of aquaporin’s natural environment using advanced techniques of polymer chemistry, such as surface-initiated atom transfer radical polymerization. You will prepare and analytically characterize a range of surface-modified membranes and study the effects of these modifications on protein immobilization. Furthermore, the prepared biomimetic membranes will also be tested in terms of water flux and solute rejection to find a correlation between surface chemistry, protein loading, and membrane performance. Your findings will immediately contribute to the future development of aquaporin-based biomimetic membranes.

Key competences:

Polymer chemistry, Surface modification and characterization, Protein immobilization, Membrane performance testing

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