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The open membrane database: Synthesis–structure–performance relationships of polymeric membranes

The Open Membrane Database is an archive containing performance data of ± 900 polymeric membranes. By offering consistent, dynamic, and open access to state-of-the-art membrane performance, the database aims to propel the field of membrane technology towards new discoveries.

Published onMay 02, 2023
The open membrane database: Synthesis–structure–performance relationships of polymeric membranes


Membrane technology is an established, energy-efficient separation method with applications in, amongst others, (seawater) desalination, wastewater treatment, and CO2 separation. Although fundamentally different, each membrane application relies on the selective permeation of the to-be-treated stream through the membrane in which certain components can pass while others are retained, like the working principle behind a coffee filter.

Two parameters, i.e. permeability and selectively, are usually applied to quantitively characterize separation performance. Since both are intrinsically linked to the synthesis-structure-performance (SSP) relationship of membranes, the membrane field has thus far relied on periodically published compilations of so-called permeability-selectivity trade-off curves to communicate the current state of the field. This current approach has been associated with several limitations. First, the periodic reports are static in nature with each +/- biannual publication providing only a snapshot of the field. Secondly, inconsistencies in characterization and analysis of the data result in difficulties to draw conclusions regarding SSP relationships. Finally, data accessibility with regards to either accessing journals but also accessing raw data remains a roadblock for many (membrane) researchers.

With these restrictions in mind and inspired by successes in other fields (structural biology, crystallography, gas separation, …) the open membrane database (OMD) was inaugurated in 2021 and can be accessed free of charge at The OMD is a user-sourced, open access database aiming to offer a transparent platform to benchmark novel membranes, conduct meta-analyses, and formulate new SSP relationships to propel the field of membrane desalination towards new discoveries. The initial database was founded by the Membrane Technology Group (Faculty of Bioscience Engineering) from KU Leuven and realized as an international collaborative effort between four universities. Currently, it contains data on over 900 membranes in the field of desalination.

Currently, we are struggling with extremely few external submissions, implying that more efforts should be directed towards community engagement. In this context, we are exploring the option to implement a (compulsory) data repository linked to submission in certain membrane journals. Additionally, our aim would be to gradually include more membrane research domains beyond just desalination, establishing the OMD as a platform for the whole membrane community.  


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Author biography

Simon Van Buggenhout (KU Leuven) is currently pursuing a PhD at the Membrane Technology Group under supervision of professor Ivo Vankelecom. His research interests include the development of new conditioning strategies for solvent-resistant nanofiltration membranes as well as systematically evaluating their performance at industrially challenging conditions. As one of the founding members of the OMD(4SRNF), he is actively involved in deconvoluting the synthesis-structure-performance mysteries which are still hindering the design of better performing membranes.

Project contributors:

  • Cody L. Ritt

  • Timothée Stassin

  • Douglas M. Davenport

  • Ryan M. DuChanois

  • Ines Nulens

  • Zhe Yang

  • Adi Ben-Zvi

  • Naama Segev-Mark

  • Menachem Elimelech

  • Chuyang Y. Tang

  • Guy Z. Ramon

  • Ivo F.J. Vankelecom

  • Rhea Verbeke

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