Patricia Luis Alconero
Recent publications

research interests address CO2 capture and recovery, process intensification in the chemical industry by applying advanced separation technology (membrane technology) and, exergetic and environmental analyses. She has authored more than 70 publications in these fields with more than 1000 citations. Since 2013 she is member of the Editorial Board of the ‘Journal of Chemical Technology and Biotechnology’ and, since 2014, member of the Editorial Board of the journal ‘Separation and Purification Technology’

IMMC main research direction(s):
Civil and environmental engineering
Chemical engineering

membrane technology
reaction engineering
process intensification

Research group(s): IMAP

PhD and Post-doc researchers under my supervision:

Biomimetic fixation of CO2 as source of salts and glucose
Mar Garcia Alvarez

Global warming and climate change are issues of great concern today. The increasing of greenhouse gases emissions to the atmosphere is responsible for various environmental problems. Carbon dioxide (CO2) capture and storage can greatly reduce CO2 emissions from new and existing power plants. Membrane technology is highly considered as one of promising post-combustion technologies for reducing CO2 emissions due to its simple operability and energy efficiency.
The overall objective of this project is CO2 capture using membrane technology from flue gases by using bio-enzymes as catalysts by mimicking nature for converting into valuable chemicals.
Two enzymatic conversions will be studied in this project. The first one is based on the action of the enzyme carbonic anhydrase, which facilitates the reversible hydration of CO2 to bicarbonate. The second enzyme is RuBisCO (Ribulose-1,5-bisphosphate (RuBP) carboxylase/oxygenase). The great advantage of using RuBisCO is that this enzyme converts inorganic carbon to its organic form through the formation of a relatively high-molecular weight ligand in the form of phosphoglyceric acid, which may subsequently form glucose.

CO2 post-combustion capture by means of membrane absorption-crystallization using amino-acid salts
Marie-Charlotte Sparenberg

Climate change remains a huge challenge today. The most mature and popular CO2 capture method in post-combustion processes is the absorption of CO2 into a solvent, often MEA. Nevertheless it has been shown that this method could be improved both in terms of solvent and in terms of device. The project aims at studying the CO2 post-combustion capture by means of membrane absorption with amino-acid salts and convert the absorbed species into valuable carbonate crystals after a concentration step by means of a reverse osmosis (RO) membrane. The crystallization will be performed thanks to a membrane distillation-crystallization step. A comparison between the osmotic membrane distillation system and the vacuum membrane distillation system will be performed. This whole process should minimize the energy consumption thanks to the use of membrane technologies instead of absorbtion columns while producing pure crystals that could be sold in the industry.

Rational Design of Metal-Organic Frameworks/Covalent Organic Frameworks Hybrid Membranes for Pervaporation
Xiao Xu

MMMs have become one of the research hotspots in the field of separation membranes in recent years.In MMMs, the poor compatibility between fillers and organic polymers makes the membrane surface prone to defects, which leads to the decline of separation and stability of the membrane. Therefore, improving the compatibility between hybrid particles and polymers becomes an urgent problem to be solved.MOFs and COFs have the advantages of adjustable pore size, high specific
surface area, and organic components in the framework structure, which enhances compatibility with polymers and reduces defects.The super high specific surface area and selective adsorption characteristics of MOFs and COFs materials enable MOFs hybrid membranes and COFs hybrid membranes to simultaneously increase separation factor and permeation flux, breaking the "trade-off" phenomenon.
In this study, metal-organic framework complexes (MOFs) and covalent organic framework materials (COFs) will be used as hybrid particles.Hybrid membranes will be prepared by impregnation method and applied to the separation of organics/water.The separation performance of the pervaporation membrane will be improved by utilizing the characteristics of high specific surface area and selective adsorption of MOFs and COFs particles.The morphology and surface characteristics of the hybrid membranes under different membrane formation conditions will be studied by means of XRD, SEM, EDX, FTIR, CA, AFM, etc. And the effects of membrane formation factors and operating conditions on the properties of the separation
membranes will be investigated

Integrated membrane-based systems for fluoride remediation in the Rift Valley
Wuhib Zeine Ousman

The main aim of this project is the feasibility of fluoride removal from drinking water by applying integrated-membrane based technologies so that the fluoride concentration in drinking water will be in acceptable range. This will also have an economic and social aim. The project also aims at finding/fabricating a low cost, locally available membrane to remove fluoride from drinking water.In general the objectives of this project are:To evaluate technical feasibility of membrane technologies (distillation driven by osmosis, crystallization and reverse osmosis) for fluoride removal from drinking water, To fabricate low cost, locally available membrane filter (from natural & synthetic materials) and evaluating its defluoridation efficiency,To determine defluoridation efficiency of integrated- membrane based technologies (membrane filtration & adsorption) and To assess factors affecting the efficiency of integrated -membrane based process and to. determine the optimum values for the factors.

Biocatalytic membranes for CO2 Capture
Yusak Hartanto

Novel enzymatic process for CO2 capture using membrane technology

Impact of membrane characteristics on enzyme reactivity and co-crystallization
Sara Chergaoui

The project focuses on the enantioselective biocatalytic synthesis of high-value chiral amines. A combined reaction-purification process based on membrane technology and using enzymes will be developed. As opposed to classical batch and multi-step processes, such an integrated approach would allow (i) maintaining the enzyme in the reactor, (ii) intensifying the production of high added-value chemicals, and (iii) recover a highly pure co-product. Novel membranes will be developed and the effect of their composition and structure on the final performance will be studied.

Efficient Membrane-Based Affinity Separations for Chemical Applications
Gilles Van Eygen

In this research project, a variety of hydrophobic ceramic and polymeric membranes will be used for a wide range of membrane extraction applications, never tested before with membrane contactors. This might reveal a substantially enlarged potential of membrane extraction, both in applications and in operating conditions. This will be properly explored in this research project, in benchmark with liquid-liquid-extraction. Moreover, in this project, some comparative testing will be performed in microfluidic membrane extraction devices (using mainly polymeric membranes). Three objectives are defined for this project: comparison of open membrane extraction with polymeric and grafted ceramic membranes, determination of the capabilities of membrane-based ASA processes in different applications and comparison of membrane-based ASA processes, other ASA processes, and ASM processes.

Integrated process for CO2 capture and conversion into valuable products
Kamyll Dawn Cocon

CO2 has recently become a hot topic in research due concerns of alarming CO2 levels in the atmosphere, and the ongoing shift towards green production processes. These concerns are currently addressed by designing systems capable of CO2 capture and valorization. Enzymes offer an efficient means of CO2 capture under normal conditions. However, they are highly sensitive to temperature as well as pH, and are prone to deactivation. Industrially incorporating enzymes for CO2 capture therefore requires robustifying them against typical industrial conditions. The PhD project hopes to accomplish this by immobilizing the enzymes on membranes. With a plethora of enzymes, an integrated multi-enzymatic membrane system can be designed to produce high-end products as a green alternative to the current production process. The design of the integrated CO2 capture and valorization system will be carried out in four stages: (1) identifying the appropriate cocktail of enzymes, (2) identifying the compatible membrane for the selected enzymes, (3) optimizing the integrated process, (4) accounting for the environmental footprint of the process through life cycle analysis.

Recent publications

See complete list of publications

Journal Articles

1. Chergaoui, Sara; Debecker, Damien P.; Leyssens, Tom; Luis Alconero, Patricia. Key Parameters Impacting the Crystal Formation in Antisolvent Membrane-Assisted Crystallization. In: Membranes, Vol. 13, no.2, p. 140 (2023). doi:10.3390/membranes13020140.

2. Caro Garrido, Camila; Robeyns, Koen; Debecker, Damien P.; Luis Alconero, Patricia; Leyssens, Tom. From Liquid to Solid: Cocrystallization as an Engineering Tool for the Solidification of Pyruvic Acid. In: Crystals, Vol. 13, no.5, p. 808 (2023). doi:10.3390/cryst13050808.

3. Xu, Xiao; Van Eygen, Gilles; Molina Fernandez, Cristhian; Nikolaeva, Daria; depasse, Ysaline; Chergaoui, Sara; Hartanto, Yusak; Van der Bruggen, Bart; Coutinho, João A.P.; Buekenhoudt, Anita; Luis Alconero, Patricia. Evaluation of task-specific ionic liquids applied in pervaporation membranes: Experimental and COSMO-RS studies. In: Journal of Membrane Science, Vol. 670, p. 121350 (2023). doi:10.1016/j.memsci.2023.121350.

4. Garcia Alvarez, Mar; Sang Sefidi, Vida; Beguin, Marine; Collet, Alexandre; Bahamonde, Raúl; Luis Alconero, Patricia. Osmotic Membrane Distillation Crystallization of NaHCO3. In: Energies, Vol. 15, no. 2682, p. 1-13 (2022). doi:10.3390/en15072682.

5. Lumami Kapepula, Vercus; Garcia Alvarez, Mar; Sang Sefidi, Vida; Buleng Njoyim Tamungang, Estella; Ndikumana, Théophile; Musibono, Dieu-Donné; Van Der Bruggen, Bart; Luis Alconero, Patricia. Evaluation of Commercial Reverse Osmosis and Nanofiltration Membranes for the Removal of Heavy Metals from Surface Water in the Democratic Republic of Congo. In: Clean Technologies, Vol. 4, no.4, p. 1300-1316 (2022). doi:10.3390/cleantechnol4040080.

6. Friess, Karel; Izák, Pavel; Kárászová, Magda; Pasichnyk, Mariia; Lanč, Marek; Nikolaeva, Daria; Luis Alconero, Patricia; Jansen, Johannes Carolus. A Review on Ionic Liquid Gas Separation Membranes. In: Membranes, Vol. 11, no.2, p. 97 (2021). doi:10.3390/membranes11020097.

7. Molina Fernandez, Cristhian; Luis Alconero, Patricia. Immobilization of carbonic anhydrase for CO2 capture and its industrial implementation: A review. In: Journal of CO2 Utilization, Vol. 47, p. 101475 (2021). doi:10.1016/j.jcou.2021.101475.

8. Liu, Riri; Chen, Qin; Cao, Moyuan; Lin, Jiuyang; Lin, Fang; Ye, Wenyuan; Luis Alconero, Patricia; Van der Bruggen, Bart; Zhao, Shuaifei. Robust bio-inspired superhydrophilic and underwater superoleophobic membranes for simultaneously fast water and oil recovery. In: Journal of Membrane Science, Vol. 623, p. 119041 (2021). doi:10.1016/j.memsci.2020.119041.

9. Lin, Jiuyang; Chen, Qin; Huang, Xuan; Yan, Zhongsen; Lin, Xiaocheng; Ye, Wenyuan; Arcadio, Sotto; Luis Alconero, Patricia; Bi, Jinhong; Van der Bruggen, Bart; Zhao, Shuaifei. Integrated loose nanofiltration-electrodialysis process for sustainable resource extraction from high-salinity textile wastewater. In: Journal of Hazardous Materials, Vol. 419, p. 126505 (2021). doi:10.1016/j.jhazmat.2021.126505.

10. Kapepula Lumami, Vercus; Ndikumana, Théophie; Bulen Tamungang, Njoyim Estella; Musibono, Dieu-Donné; Lukusa Mbaya, Alain; Nsimanda Ipey, Camille; Luis Alconero, Patricia; Van Der Bruggen, Bart. Determination of the Toxicological Risk of Urban Waste from the City of Uvira Dumped into the North-Western Coast in Lake Tanganyika (Democratic Republic of Congo). In: Journal of Environmental Protection, Vol. 12, no.10, p. 677-693 (2021). doi:10.4236/jep.2021.1210041.


1. Luis Alconero, Patricia; Sang Sefidi, Vida; Garcia Alvarez, Mar; Sparenberg, Marie-Charlotte. CONTINUOUS PROCESS AND SYSTEM FOR THE PRODUCTION OF SODIUM BICARBONATE CRYSTALS.

Conference Papers

1. Kapepula Lumami, Vercus; Luis Alconero, Patricia; Dieudonné, Musibono. Evaluation of commercial reverse osmosis and nanofiltration membranes for the removal of heavy metals in water sources from the Democratic Republic of Congo. 2022 xxx.

2. Chergaoui, Sara; Leyssens, Tom; Debecker, Damien P.; Luis Alconero, Patricia. Membrane-assisted antisolvent crystallization: which factors control crystal properties?. 2022 xxx.

3. Chergaoui, Sara; Lauzer, Jimmy; Debecker, Damien P.; Leyssens, Tom; Luis Alconero, Patricia. Tailoring polyvinylidene fluoride membrane hydrophobicity, porosity and thickness to control α-Glycine antisolvent crystallization. 2022 xxx.

4. Chergaoui, Sara; Debecker, Damien P.; Leyssens, Tom; Luis Alconero, Patricia. Intensification of antisolvent crystallization process using membrane technology. 2022 xxx.

5. Chergaoui, Sara; Debecker, Damien P.; Leyssens, Tom; Luis Alconero, Patricia. Controlling L-serine antisolvent crystallization using hydrophobic polymeric membranes. 2022 xxx.

6. Xu, Xiao; Hartanto, Yusak; Luis Alconero, Patricia. Reactive pervaporation for valorisation of glycerol as glycerol carbonate. 2022 xxx.

7. Vercus Lumami Kapepula1; Xiao X; Hartanto, Yusak; Chergaoui, Sara; Bart Van Der Bruggen; Luis Alconero, Patricia. Removal of heavy metals from surface water using chitosan/ZIF-8 mixed-matrix membranes. 2022 xxx.

8. Sang Sefidi, Vida; Garcia Alvarez, Mar; Sparenberg, Marie-Charlotte; Luis Alconero, Patricia. Membrane crystallization in an integrated process for CO2 capture. 2021 xxx.

9. Garcia Alvarez, Mar; Sang Sefidi, Vida; Sparenberg, Marie-Charlotte; Luis Alconero, Patricia. CO2 capture and revalorization as carbonate crystals using membrane technologies. 2021 xxx.

10. Sang Sefidi, Vida; Luis Alconero, Patricia. Promoted sodium carbonate solution by amino acids for post combustion CO2 capture using membrane contactors. 2021 xxx.

Book Chapters

1. Hartanto, Yusak; Luis Alconero, Patricia. Applications of Ionic Liquid-based Materials in Membrane-based Gas Separation. In: Advances in Functional Separation Membranes : Chemistry in the Environment , Royal Society of Chemistry, 2021, p. 159-183. 978-1-83916-287-9. xxx xxx. doi:10.1039/9781839165436-00159.

2. Amelio, A.; Van der Bruggen, B.; Lopresto, C.; Verardi, A.; Calabro, V.; Luis Alconero, Patricia. Pervaporation membrane reactors: Biomass conversion into alcohols. In: Membrane Technologies for Biorefining , Elsevier Inc., 2016, p. 331-381. 978-008100452-4. xxx xxx. doi:10.1016/B978-0-08-100451-7.00014-1.

3. Luis Alconero, Patricia; Van der Bruggen, B.. Pervaporation modeling: State of the art and future trends. In: Pervaporation, Vapour Permeation and Membrane Distillation: Principles and Applications , xxx, 2015. 978-178242256-3;978-178242246-4. xxx xxx. doi:10.1016/B978-1-78242-246-4.00004-0.

4. Genduso, G.; Luis Alconero, Patricia; Van der Bruggen, B.. Pervaporation membrane reactors (PVMRs) for esterification. In: Membrane Reactors for Energy Applications and Basic Chemical Production , xxx, 2015, p. 565-603. 978-178242227-3;978-178242223-5. xxx xxx. doi:10.1016/B978-1-78242-223-5.00019-4.

5. Van der Bruggen, B.; Luis Alconero, Patricia. Pervaporation. In: Progress in Filtration and Separation , xxx, 2014, p. 101-154. 978-012398307-7;978-012384746-1. xxx xxx. doi:10.1016/B978-0-12-384746-1.00004-5.

6. Van Der Bruggen, B.; Escobar, I.C.; Luis Alconero, Patricia. Analysis of the development of membrane technology for gas separation and CO2 capture. In: Modern Applications in Membrane Science and Technology , xxx, 2011. 13: 9780841226180. xxx xxx.

7. Luis Alconero, Patricia; Albo, J.; Afonso, C.; Irabien, A.. Environmental risks of magnetic ionic liquids: Ecotoxicity (EC50, Vibrio fischeri). In: Ecotoxicology around the Globe , xxx, 2011, p. 359-371. 978-161761126-1. xxx xxx.


1. Luis Alconero, Patricia. Fundamental Modeling of Membrane Systems. Elsevier, 2018. 9780128134832. 372 pages.