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.

Daria Nikolaeva

Process intensification

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.

Recent publications

See complete list of publications

Journal Articles

1. Li, Wenqi; Molina-Fernández, Cristhian; Estager, Julien; Monbaliu, Jean-Christophe M.; Debecker, Damien P.; Luis Alconero, Patricia. Supported ionic liquid membranes for the separation of methanol/dimethyl carbonate mixtures by pervaporation. In: Journal of Membrane Science, Vol. 598, p. 117790 (2020). doi:10.1016/j.memsci.2019.117790.

2. Nikolaeva, Daria; Luis Alconero, Patricia. Top-Down Polyelectrolytes for Membrane-Based Post-Combustion CO2 Capture. In: Molecules, Vol. 25, no.2, p. 323 (2020). doi:10.3390/molecules25020323.

3. Sparenberg, Marie-Charlotte; Ruiz Salmón, Israel; Luis Alconero, Patricia. Economic evaluation of salt recovery from wastewater via membrane distillation-crystallization. In: Separation and Purification Technology, Vol. 235, p. 116075 (2020). doi:10.1016/j.seppur.2019.116075.

4. Cristóvão, M.B.; Janssens, Raphaël; Yadav, A.; Pandey, S.; Luis Alconero, Patricia; Van der Bruggen, B.; Dubey, K.K.; Mandal, M.K.; Crespo, J.G.; Pereira, V.J. Predicted concentrations of anticancer drugs in the aquatic environment: What should we monitor and where should we treat?. In: Journal of Hazardous Materials, Vol. 392, p. 122330 (2020). doi:10.1016/j.jhazmat.2020.122330.

5. Walschot, Maureen; Luis Alconero, Patricia; Liegeois, Michel. The challenges of reverse osmosis desalination: solutions in Jordan. In: Water International, Vol. 45, no. 2, p. 112-124 (2020). doi:10.1080/02508060.2020.1721191.

6. Gérardy, Romaric; Debecker, Damien P.; Estager, Julien; Luis Alconero, Patricia; Monbaliu, Jean-Christophe. Continuous Flow Upgrading of Selected C2−C6 Platform Chemicals Derived from Biomass. In: Chemical Reviews, Vol. 120, p. 7219–7347 (2020).

7. Li, Wenqi; Estager, Julien; Monbaliu, Jean‐Christophe M; Debecker, Damien P.; Luis Alconero, Patricia. Separation of bio‐based chemicals using pervaporation. In: Journal of Chemical Technology & Biotechnology, Vol. 95, no.9, p. 2311-2334 (2020). doi:10.1002/jctb.6434.

8. Bahamonde Soria, Raul Alfonso; Zhu, Junyong; Gonza, Irma; Van der Bruggen, Bart; Luis Alconero, Patricia. Effect of (TiO2: ZnO) ratio on the anti-fouling properties of bio-inspired nanofiltration membranes. In: Separation and Purification Technology, Vol. 251, p. 117280 (2020). doi:; 10.1016/j.seppur.2020.117280.

9. Jin, Pengrui; Yuan, Shushan; Zhang, Gang; Zhu, Junyong; Zheng, Junfeng; Luis Alconero, Patricia; Van der Bruggen, Bart. Polyarylene thioether sulfone/sulfonated sulfone nanofiltration membrane with enhancement of rejection and permeability via molecular design☆. In: Journal of Membrane Science, Vol. 608, p. 118241 (2020). doi:10.1016/j.memsci.2020.118241.

10. Jin, Pengrui; Zhu, Junyong; Yuan, Shushan; Zhang, Gang; Volodine, Alexander; Tian, Miaomiao; Wang, Jianxiu; Luis Alconero, Patricia; Van der Bruggen, Bart. Erythritol-based polyester loose nanofiltration membrane with fast water transport for efficient dye/salt separation. In: Chemical Engineering Journal, Vol. 406, p. 126796 (2021). doi:10.1016/j.cej.2020.126796.

Conference Papers

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

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

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

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

5. Luis Alconero, Patricia. Separation of bio-based chemicals using pervaporation.

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

7. Sparenberg, Marie-Charlotte; Luis Alconero, Patricia; Ruiz Salmon, Israel. Economic evaluation of salt recovery from wastewater via membrane distillation-crystallization.

8. Sang Sefidi, Vida; Luis Alconero, Patricia. A comparison of different amino acid solutions for CO2 capture using a membrane contactor.

9. Molina Fernandez, Cristhian; Luis Alconero, Patricia. Thin film enzyme - poly(ionic liquid) – free ionic liquid composite membranes for enhanced CO2 absorption with carbonate aqueous solutions.

10. Sang Sefidi, Vida; Winand, Inès; Luis Alconero, Patricia. A comparison of different amino acid solutions for CO2 capture using a membrane contactor.

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. 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. 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. 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. 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.

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.


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