Magnetic nanoparticles boosting the osmotic efficiency of a polymeric FO draw agent: effect of polymer conformation

Priyanka Dey, Emad L. Izake*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Poly sodium acrylate (PSA)-coated Magnetic Nanoparticles (PSA-MNPs) were synthesized as smart osmotic draw agent (SMDA) for water desalination by forward osmosis (FO) process. The PSA-coated MNPs demonstrated significantly higher osmotic pressure (~ 30 fold) as well as high FO water flux (~ 2-3 fold) when compared to their polymer (polyelectrolyte) counterpart, even at a very low concentration of ~ 0.13. wt.% in the draw solution. The PSA polymer chain conformation - coiled to extended - demonstrates a significant impact on the availability of the polymer hydrophilic groups in solution which is the driving force to attain higher osmotic pressure and water flux. When an optimum concentration of the polymer was anchored to a NP surface, the polymer chains assume an extended open conformation making the functional hydrophilic groups available to attract water molecules. This in turn boosts the osmotic pressure and FO water flux of the PSA-MNP draw agents. The low concentration of the PSA-MNP osmotic agent and the associated high water flux enhances the cost-effectiveness of our proposed SMDA system. In addition, easier magnetic separation and regeneration of the SMDA also improves its usability making it efficient, cost-effective and environment-friendly.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)79-85
Number of pages7
Early online date15 Jul 2015
Publication statusPublished - 1 Oct 2015


  • cost effective water desalination
  • forward osmosis
  • magnetic regeneration
  • poly sodium acrylate-coated magnetic nanoparticles
  • smart magnetic osmotic draw agent


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