Research Coordinator

Prof. Maria Norberta de Pinho

Department of Chemical and Biological Engineering
Instituto Superior Técnico
Rovisco Pais-1

1049-001 Lisboa


Phone: (+351)-21-8417488 Fax: (+351)-21-8499242 E-mail:

Permanent Research Staff

- Maria Norberta de Pinho

- Ana Maria Alves

- Maria Diná Afonso

- Vítor Geraldes

- Luís Miguel Minhalma

Pos-Doc researchers:

Mahendran Rajagopalan


PhD Students:

Ana Isabel Cavaco Morao

Antónia Teresa Zorro Nobre Macedo

Maria Isabel Araújo Pinto

Vanessa Cunha

Vítor Manuel Magueijo



The MSP research activity ranges from the synthesis of new polymeric membranes to the modelling and application of membrane in separations, membrane reactors and processes. The main reasearch objectives are:

- Optimization of mass transfer and flow structure in membrane medical systems incorporating new hemocompatible membranes (blood oxygenators, immunoisolation) and membrane modules.

- Correlation of spectroscopic (ATR-FTIR, XPS), microscopic (SEM, TEM, AFM) and electrokinetic characterisation with membrane performance.

- Predictive modelling of Membrane Processes with recourse to Computational Fluid Dynamics (CFD) incorporating quantitative parameters pertaining to membrane characteristics, flow structures and mass transfer mechanisms.

- CFD modelling validation through experimental data of Micro Particle Image Velocimetry (Micro PIV) and Holographic Interferometry (equipments acquired in the project REEQ/1764/EQU/2005, 05/06).

- Development and optimization of Ultrafiltration/Nanofiltration and Integrated Hybrid Processes for the production of drinking water free of health hazards.

- Fractionation/Purification of valuable products from processing wastewaters of cork (tannins), pulp and paper (lignosulfonates) and cheese (proteins, oligosaccharides) by Membrane Processes.

- Nanofiltration/Electrodialysis in wine industry: must concentration and rectification, production of wines with low alcohol content.


The research activities of the MSP group focus on three main areas:

1. Preparation, functionalization and characterization of polymeric membranes

The bi-soft segment Polyurea/polyurethane (PU) membranes synthesized in our laboratories by Zhao & Pinho (Polymer, 40(22) (1999), 6089-6097) revealed important selective permeation characteristics and mechanico-optical properties (Macromolecules, 33 (2000), 7675 - 7679; Molecular Crystals and Liquid Crystals, 365 (2001), 447-457). New PU membranes would be developed during 2002-2004 to enhance their bio and hemocompatibility and the selective separation of the gases involved in the respiratory process. This aims applications in the medical field. As for the cellulose ester membranes special emphasis would be given to the tailoring of surface structures and to the understanding of protein/membrane interactions. Characterization would be carried out for the surface morphology through Atomic Force Microscopy, for the structure of pore water through ATR-FTIR and for the surface charge through zeta-potential measurements (equipment requested to FCT). The PhD thesis of Vitor Magueijo and Ana Rita Costa, initiated in July 2002, address this subject. Dr. Diná Afonso would put strong focus on studies of membrane charge characterization.

2. Modeling of Flow and Mass Transfer at Membrane /Fluid Interfaces

Modelling with the use of Computational Fluid Dynamics (CFD) aims the optimization of ultrafiltration (UF), nanofiltration (NF) and reverse osmosis (RO) equipments. This objective is strategically planned in conjunction with experimental techniques of flow visualization (Particle Imaging Velocimetry (PIV)) and of solute concentration distribution measurements (Holographic Inteferometry (HI)) (AIChE Journal, 1998, 44 (8), 1765-1776), for the validation of the developed numerical models. The equipment of PIV and HI were requested to FCT (proposal "Network of laboratories of functional materials for reactions, membrane processes and fuel cells") in the continuation of the joint action with IDMEC (IST).

3. Development of Membrane Hybrid Processes and Membrane Reactors

The integration of UF, NF, RO and pervaporation (PV) and electrodialysis (ED in sequences of unit operations aims at the optimization of processes for: 

a) Wastewater treatments with recovery of water and protein from cheese whey (PAMAF project with "Escola Superior Agrária de Beja" and PhD Thesis "Ultrafiltração e Nanofiltração de Soro de Queijo de Serpa" of Antónia Macedo, initiated in September 2001) and from Fish Meal production wastewaters (Colaboration Dr. Diná Afonso / Dr. Rodrigo Bórquez (Concéption U. /Chile - till July 2002)); 

b) Marble processing wastewaters (Colaboration Drs. Diná Afonso and Ana Maria Alves / Dr. Mousa Mohsen (Hashmite U. (Jordan))); 

c) Downstream processing of fermentation broths for the optimization of the isolation of several different antibiotics (Colaboration Dr. Ana Maria Alves /CIPAN); 

d) Production of drinking water from surface water (PhD Thesis "Mecanismos de Colmatação Coloidal em Ultrafiltração e Nanofiltração de Matéria Orgânica Natural de Águas de Superfície" of Ana Rita Gonçalves da Costa ); 

e) Development of membrane reactors for production of oligosacharides from hemicellulose wastes (PhD Thesis "Processo Integrado de Membranas/Hidrólise Enzimática para Produção/Separação de Xilo-Oligossacáridos" of Maria do Rosário Freixo); 

f) Clarification and Tartaric Stabilization of Wines.



Chemical Analysis

  • HPLC
  • LC
  • Gas Chromatography

·        Zetasizer

·        Campus Access to AFM, TEM, ATR-FTIR, etc...


Bench scale equipments

  • Ultrafiltration
  • Nanofiltration
  • Reverse osmosis
  • Pervaporation
  • Electrodialysis
  • Gas permeation


Pilot plants

  • Ultrafiltration, Nanofiltration, Reverse osmosis (1  m2 membrane area)
  • Pervaporation (2  m2  membrane area)
  • Electrodialisis (0.2  m2  membrane area)



Flow and mass transfer

Analysis in membrane moduldes

  • Micro Particle Image Velocimetry
  • Holographic Inteferometry



Publications in International Journals




Last Updated: January, 2008