Phase-field modeling of non-solvent induced phase separation (NIPS) for PES/NMP/Water with comparison to experiments

M. Rosario Cervellere, Xianghong Qian, David M. Ford, Christina Carbrello, Sal Giglia, Paul C. Millett

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15 Scopus citations


We develop a phase-field model to simulate the formation of porous polymeric membranes via non-solvent induced phase separation. The material system of interest is PES/NMP/Water (Polyethersulfone/N-methyl-2-pyrrolidone/Water), however the approach is broadly applicable to other materials. The three-component system is represented with two field variables: one representing the volume fraction of polymer, and the other the fractional composition of non-solvent N (water) vs solvent S (NMP). The exchange of solvent and non-solvent is solved with a Fickian diffusion model, thus capturing the in-flux of the coagulation bath into the polymer solution. As a demonstration of the predictive capabilities of the model, the concentration of solvent (NMP) in the coagulation bath was varied to draw comparisons with experiments. Two- and three-dimensional simulations were carried out to evaluate the cross-sectional pore morphology and the top surface pore size for membranes formed by NIPS. Experiments involving handcast membranes of a similar system were performed for comparison with the simulations, and an agreement was found concerning the dependence of pore morphology on the composition of the coagulation bath.

Original languageEnglish
Article number118779
JournalJournal of Membrane Science
StatePublished - Feb 1 2021


  • Computer simulation
  • Phase-field modeling
  • Polymer membrane
  • Solvent-induced phase separation


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