Graphene Oxide Doped Nanocomposite Membrane


Environment, Clean Air & Water - Filter Membrane & Absorption Material


Graphene is a two-dimensional tightly packed flat monolayer of carbon atoms arranged in a hexagonal honeycomb lattice. It has a chemical structure that closely resemble benzene and other polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbon. Dubbed as the wonder material of the 21st century, graphene possesses many desired properties such as high specific surface area, excellent chemical stability, good thermal and electrical properties as well as high mechanical strength. To obtain graphene, graphite can be chemically modified by oxidation reaction to form graphite oxide which is then reduced to obtain graphene. For this technology, the graphene oxide is formed by exfoliation of graphite oxide, which in turn is formed by oxidation of graphite nanofiber. Carbon nanofibers and graphite nanofibers differ in the way the carbon atoms interlock.

The graphene oxide (GO) nanoparticles can be embedded into the polymer matrix (not on the surface of the composite membrane) during the dope mixing and casting process. Compared to their conventional counterparts, the doped nanocomposite microfiltration (MF) and ultrafiltration (UF) membranes exhibit superior properties such as improved flux and rejection.

The technology owner is looking to license the graphene oxide nanoparticles to companies who wish to develop unique membrane filtration solutions.



Graphene oxide (GO) are manufactured by an exfoliation process from relatively low-cost graphite nanofibers. GO can be stably dispersed in water without any signs of sedimentation after 3 weeks. The graphene oxide particles are added into the polymer dope solution for casting. The GO exists in the polymer matrix in a form of sheets in the final product.

  • Can be easily blended into the polymer during the dope mixing process 
  • Minimal retrofitting required for existing MF & UF membrane manufacturing processes 


GO doped nanocomposite membranes can achieve much higher flux than conventional polymeric membranes with improved chemical oxygen demand rejection rate, mechanical and oil resistance properties.

  • Up to 89 times increase in pure water flux
  • Up to 99.6% oil removal in oily water applications
  • Up to 20% increase in mechanical strength
  • Up to 24% increase in COD rejection


This technology is applicable in the following industries:

  • All existing users of polymeric membranes in water & wastewater industries
  • New potential users who wish to adopt membrane solutions but prevented by space, mechanical strength and/or oil resistance constraints in all industries

Petroleum related industry tends to generate high volume of oily wastewater (eg. produced water – a byproduct generated during exploration and production operations of oil and natural gas) and tends to create ecological problem when the oil-grease in the effluent is not adequately removed. Traditional methods of separating oil from oily wastewater are time consuming and ineffective against submicron size emulsion droplet. Membrane technologies, using oil resistant materials such as silicon carbide, are currently being used and developed to solve this issue but at very high CAPEX and OPEX. The graphene oxide/polymer composite membrane technology has good potential as lower cost alternative to these expensive membrane technologies currently available. 

Market Trends & Opportunities

The membranes market size is projected to grow from USD 5.4 billion in 2019 to USD 8.3 billion by 2024. The major drivers for the membranes market include increasing population, rising awareness about wastewater reuse, and rapid industrialization. The polymeric segment is projected to lead the membranes market during the forecast period. The Asia Pacific Countries (APAC) is projected to be the largest market during the forecast period. APAC consists of some large and rapidly growing economies, such as China, India, Indonesia, Malaysia, Vietnam and Thailand. Across these economies, local governments are reforming regulations in fields such as water treatment, drinking water supply, and wastewater discharge.

The forecast is based on conventional membranes market and has not included the potential market of the petroleum industry (eg. produced water treatment, water injection/re-injection, enhanced oil recovery applications. The global produced water treatment market size was valued at USD 5.8 billion in 2015.


For existing users of polymeric membranes, their existing systems:

  • May be replaced with graphene oxide/polymer composite membrane modules with minimal alterations
  • May be operated at lower pressure to achieve the same flux rate
  • May be operated at same pressure with lesser numbers of membrane modules
  • May be operated at same pressure with same footprint but handling higher treatment capacity (eg. plant upgrading)
  • Lower life cycle cost due to lower energy consumption, lesser numbers of membrane modules, lesser fouling (hence cleaning) and better mechanical strength.

For new potential users, they can adopt membrane solutions previously prevented by space, mechanical strength and/or oil resistance constraints.

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