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.

Removal of azo dyes in textile wastewater using MFC and membrane technology
Raul Alfonso Bahamonde Soria

The growing world population has increased the problem in the field of environmental pollution, one of the most alarming problems is the pollution of water due to industries, among which one of the largest is the textile industry. This wastewater contains azo dyes which are classified as one of the most difficult compounds to degrade. These dyes can cause very serious environmental problems due to their great stability in environmental conditions (long time it takes to degrade) and its high toxicity for certain aquatic microorganisms. There are several methods of degradation of azo dyes, some very innovative among which are microbial fuel cells, advanced oxidation processes and filtration membranes, as can be seen in the literature, most of the research is focused in attacking the particular problem, but not many efforts have been made together.
The main objective of this project is to increase the potential of these technologies, microbial fuel cells and photocatalytic membrane reactors for an efficient treatment of textile wastewater, on the other hand the modification of osmotic membranes will improve the anti-fouling characteristics as well as a greater durability of membrane filtration systems and photocatalytic membrane reactors to obtain a fast and efficient system when degrading these toxic compounds.

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.

Vida Sang Sefidi

High performance membranes for CO2 capture involving advance materials and biomimicking Nature
Cristhian Molina Fernandez

Global warming is a major problem of our current society. Since our energy demand is continuously increasing it is still expected to rely on fossil fuel supply in the following years. That is why much effort has been dedicated to find industrially feasible solutions to recover the CO2 present in flue gases. This research project aims to provide more and better solutions for CO2 capture and reutilization using membrane technology involving advance materials and biomimicking Nature.

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

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. 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.

2. Rezakazemi, Mashallah; Arabi Shamsabadi, Ahmad; Lin, Haiqing; Luis Alconero, Patricia; Ramakrishna, Seeram; Aminabhavi, Tejraj M. Sustainable MXenes-based membranes for highly energy-efficient separations. In: Renewable and Sustainable Energy Reviews, Vol. 143, p. 110878 (2021). doi:10.1016/j.rser.2021.110878.

3. 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.

4. Janssens, Raphaël; Hainaut, Robin; Gillard, Juline; Dailly, Hélène; Luis Alconero, Patricia. Performance of a Slurry Photocatalytic Membrane Reactor for the Treatment of Real Secondary Wastewater Effluent Polluted by Anticancer Drugs. In: Industrial & Engineering Chemistry Research, Vol. 60, p. 2223-2231 (2021). doi:10.1021/acs.iecr.0c04846.

5. 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.

6. 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.

7. Van Eygen, Gilles; Van der Bruggen, Bart; Buekenhoudt, Anita; Luis Alconero, Patricia. Efficient membrane-based affinity separations for chemical applications: A review. In: Chemical Engineering and Processing - Process Intensification, Vol. 169, p. 108613 (2021). doi:10.1016/j.cep.2021.108613.

8. Li, Jian; Liu, Riri; Zhu, Junyong; Li, Xin; Yuan, Shushan; Tian, Miaomiao; Wang, Jing; Luis Alconero, Patricia; Van der Bruggen, Bart; Lin, Jiuyang. Electrophoretic nuclei assembly of MOFs in polyamide membranes for enhanced nanofiltration. In: Desalination, Vol. 512, p. 115125 (2021). doi:10.1016/j.desal.2021.115125.

9. Xu, Xiao; Nikolaeva, Daria; Hartanto, Yusak; Luis Alconero, Patricia. MOF-based membranes for pervaporation. In: Separation and Purification Technology, Vol. 278, p. 119233 (2021). doi:10.1016/j.seppur.2021.119233.

10. Lumami Kapepula, 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.

Conference Papers

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

2. Sang Sefidi, Vida; Bart Van der Bruggen; Luis Alconero, Patricia; Lumami Kapepula, Vercus; Garcia Alvarez, Mar. Evaluation of commercial ro and nf membranes, used for the release of heavy metals in wastewater. 2021 xxx.

3. Chergaoui, Sara; Leyssens, Tom; Debecker, Damien P.; Luis Alconero, Patricia. Impact of membrane characteristics on anti-solvent crystallization. 2021 xxx.

4. Chergaoui, Sara; Leyssens, Tom; Debecker, Damien P.; Luis Alconero, Patricia. Supersaturation control using membrane-assisted anti-solvent crystallization. 2021 xxx.

5. Luis Alconero, Patricia. Membrane technology: the core of more sustainable processes?. In: Virtual DCMIC Seminar Series website, 2020, p. seminar #14 xxx.

6. Luis Alconero, Patricia. Gender and Science and Engineering. 2020 xxx.

7. Molina Fernandez, Cristhian; Peters, Ariane; Luis Alconero, Patricia. Carbonic anhydrase immobilization in poly(ionic liquid) based materials for application in CO2 separation by membranes. 2020 xxx.

8. Luis Alconero, Patricia. Separation of bio-based chemicals using pervaporation. 2020 xxx.

9. Sparenberg, Marie-Charlotte; Luis Alconero, Patricia. Carbonate crystallization via vacuum membrane distillation-crystallization. 2020 xxx.

10. Sang Sefidi, Vida; Winand, Inés; Luis Alconero, Patricia. Carbon dioxide absorption of aqueous amino acids solutions by using membrane contactors. 2020 xxx.

Book Chapters

1. 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.

2. 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.

3. 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.

4. 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.

5. 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.

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.


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