Microplastics fouling and interaction with polymeric membranes: A review

M. Golgoli, M. Khiadani, A. Shafieian, T. K. Sen, Y. Hartanto, M. L. Johns, M. Zargar

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

42 Citations (Scopus)


The emergence and accumulation of microplastics (MPs) in various aquatic environments have recently raised significant concerns. Wastewater treatment plants (WWTPs) have been identified as one of the major sources of MPs discharge to the environment, implying a substantial need to improve advanced techniques for more efficient removal of MPs. Polymeric membranes have been proven effective in MPs removal. However, fouling is the main drawback of membrane processes and MPs can foul the membranes due to their small size and specific surface properties. Hence, it is important to investigate the impacts of MPs on membrane fouling to develop efficient membrane-based techniques for MPs removal. Although membrane technologies have a high potential for MPs removal, the interaction of MPs with membranes and their fouling effects have not been critically reviewed. The purpose of this paper is to provide a state-of-the-art review of MPs interaction with membranes and facilitate a better understanding of the relevant limitations and prospects of the membrane technologies. The first section of this paper is dedicated to a review of recent studies on MPs occurrence in WWTPs aiming to determine the most frequent MPs. This is followed by a summary of recent studies on MPs removal using membranes and discussions on the impact of MPs on membrane fouling and other probable issues (abrasion, concentration polarisation, biofouling, etc.). Finally, some recommendations for further research in this area are highlighted. This study serves as a valuable reference for future research on the development of anti-fouling membranes considering these new emerging contaminates.

Original languageEnglish
Article number131185
Publication statusPublished - Nov 2021


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