Tarabara research group
Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering
Michigan State University



Recent news

April 2016

Congratulations to Charifa Hejase, a recipient of one of 2016 ESPP Doctoral Recruitment Fellowship awards.

April 2016

Bin Guo successfully defends her PhD dissertation "Virus removal and inactivation in a photocatalytic membrane reactor: Disinfection mechanisms and effect of water quality". Congratulations, Bin!

February 2016

Our paper on the design of reactive membranes for flow-through dehalogenation is published in Environmental Science: Nano
Crock, C. A.; Tarabara, V. V. Pd and Pd-Au nanocatalysts supported on exfoliated graphite for high throughput dehalogenation by. nanocomposite membranes. Environ. Sci.: Nano. 2016, 3, 453-461.

Nano impact statement:
To date, high throughput dechlorination by membrane reactors has not been practical because of the conflicting requirements of high permeate flux and sufficient time for reaction within the membrane. High reactivity catalysts are needed to negotiate the conflicting demands of reactivity and throughput. We report on the design of metallic (Pd) and bimetallic (Pd–Au) catalysts supported on exfoliated graphite nanoplatelets (xGnPs) that enable TCE hydrodechlorination with rate constants up to 81 times higher than those obtained for the commercial Pd/Al2O3 catalyst. Nanocomposite membranes based on these novel catalysts can remove 96% of TCE at the high permeate flux of 47.4 L/m2/h/bar. An inexpensive alternative to graphene, xGnPs as catalyst supports can enable a broad range of other cost-efficient membrane reactions.

Pd-Au catalyst on xGnP support

Conceptual illustration of a hierarchical nanocatalyst based on bimetallic (Pd-Au) nanoparticles as the catalyst and exfoliated graphite nanoplatelets  as catalyst support.  The Pd-Au nanoparticles have core-shell morphology with Au and Pd forming the core and the shell, respectively.


February 2016

Christopher Crock successfully defends his PhD dissertation "Polymer nanocomposite membranes with hierarchically structured catalysts for high throughput dehalogenation". Well done, Chris!!!

January 2016

Claudio Calderon completes his MS project "Rejection of salt in water by nanofiltration membranes in the presence of oil droplets" and graduates. Congratulations, Claudio!!!

November 2015

A paper based on our collaboration with groups of Dr. Bruening (MSU Chemistry) and Dr. Bénard (MSU Mechanical Engineering) is published  in Chemical Engineering Research and Design journal: Ji, P.; Motin, A.; Wenqian Shan; Bénard, A.; Bruening, M. L.; Tarabara, V. V. Dynamic crossflow filtration with a rotating tubular membrane: Using centripetal force to decrease fouling by buoyant particles. Chem. Eng. Res. Des. 2016, 106, 101-114.


- Rotation-induced centripetal forces move low density particles away from the lumen wall
- Fouling by low density particles decreases when rotating a tubular membrane
- Rotation preferentially prevents deposition of particles with large diameters.
- Shear forces dislodge large particles from the cake
- Swirling flow does not fully develop during membrane rotation

rotating tubular membrane

Diagram of crossflow filtration of a particle suspension through a rotating,
solvent-permeable membrane.


November 2015

A paper based on our collaboration with Drs. Jia Wei Chew and Anthony Fane from the  Singapore Membrane Technology Center is accepted for publication in the Journal of Membrane Science: Tummons, E. N.; Tarabara, V. V.; Chew, J.-W.; Fane, A. G. Behavior of oil droplets at the membrane surface during crossflow microfiltration of oil-water emulsions. J. Membr. Sci. 2016, 500, 211-224.


- DOTM method is used to visualize oil droplets at the membrane surface
- Fouling stages include droplet clustering, deformation, and coalescence
- Droplets that coalesce to exceed a critical size are removed by shear
- Force balance on a droplet predicts the critical droplet size
- Droplet coalescence and crossflow shear control membrane fouling by oil droplets

oil droplet behavior at the membrane surface

Stages of oil-droplet behavior at a microfiltration membrane surface.


October 2015

A paper based on our collaboration with Dr. Nguyen's group (UIUC) is now published in the Journal of Membrane Science: Lu, R.; Li, Q.; Yin, Z.; Xagoraraki, I.; Tarabara, V. V.; Nguyen, T. H. Effect of virus influent concentration on its removal by microfiltration: the case of human adenovirus 2. J. Membr. Sci. 2016, 497, 120–127.

July 2015

Congratulations to Chris Crock and Hang Shi​, PhD candidates in our group: Chris and Hang were awarded dissertation completion fellowships by MSU Graduate School.

June 2015

Brian Starr successfully defends his MS thesis "Photocatalytic membranes for virus inactivation". Congratulations, Brian!!!

May 2015

Our paper on photocatalytic membranes for virus control is now published:
Guo, B.; Pasco, E. V.; Xagoraraki, I.; Tarabara, V. V. Virus removal and inactivation in a hybrid microfiltration-UV process with a photocatalytic membrane. Separ. Purif. Technol. 2015, 149, 245–254.


- First application of photocatalytic membranes for virus removal and inactivation
- Bacteriophage P22 is used as a model virus
- Original design couples outer surface of a tubular membrane with UV light
- Hybrid photocatalytic UV-microfiltration process is effective in inactivating virus
- Potential applications include treatment of high flow rate, turbid streams

photocatalytic membrane in hybrid MF-UV

Conceptual illustration of the hybrid microfiltration-UV process.

May 2015

Our paper on NF of preozonated water is now published:
Byun, S.; Taurozzi, J. S.; Tarabara, V. V. Ozonation as a pretreatment for nanofiltration: Effect of oxidation pathway on the permeate flux. Separ. Purif. Technol. 2015, 149, 174–182.


- Changes in permeate flux are mostly determined by calcium concentration and ozone dosage
- Oxidation via different oxidation pathways produces waters with different fouling propensities
- Oxidation by radical species leads to significant hydrophilization of humic acid
- Oxidation by radical species reduces foulant load by mineralizing organics

April 2015

Our paper on sacrificial membrane coatings is now published:
Ahmadiannamini, P.; Bruening, M. L.; Tarabara V. V. Sacrificial polyelectrolyte multilayer coatings as an approach to membrane fouling control: Disassembly and regeneration mechanisms . J. Membr. Sci. 2015, 491, 149–158. This is a collaboration with the group of Prof. Merlin Bruening (MSU Chemistry).


- Polyelectrolyte multilayers can serve as sacrificial membrane layers for fouling control
- Surfactants and a pH swing disassemble PEMs by disrupting non-ionic and electrostatic bonds
- PEMs can be regenerated even after fouling by BSA and alginate
- Repeated disassembly/readsorption cycles give stable water permeabilities and selectivities

two types of PEM

Mechanisms operative in the assembly of polyelectrolyte mutilayer membrames and their attachment to a supporting substrate in two cases: (a) the first polyelectrolyte layer has the same charge as the substrate and (b) the first polyelectrolyte layer has a charge opposite to that of the substrate.

April 2015

Besarion Lasareishvili (Agricultural University of Georgia) will be joining our group as a Visiting Scholar in July 2015 for a 5 month research visit.  Beso is one of eight grantees of the 2013 Georgia Early Career Scholars program jointly funded by the Civilian Research and Development Foundation, the Shota Rustaveli National Science Foundation, and the Georgian Research and Development Foundation.

Bihter Zeytuncu (Istanbul Technical University) will be joining our group as a Visiting Research Scholar in July 2015 for a one year research stay. Bihter's visit will be supported by a grant from the Scientific and Technological Research Council of Turkey (TUBITAK).

Congratulations to Hien Dang - Hien was awarded 2015 East Michigan Chapter of the Air and Waste Management Association Scholarship .

March  2015

Our paper Yin, Z.; Tarabara, V. V.; Xagoraraki, I. Human adenovirus removal by hollow fiber membranes: Effect of membrane fouling by suspended and dissolved matter is published in the Journal of Membrane Science (J. Membr. Sci. 2015, 482, 120–127). This is a collaboration with the group of Prof. Irene Xagoraraki (MSU Environmental Engineering).


- Adenovirus removal from DI water is less than 2.5 log even for 0.04 µm membranes
- Particulate foulants alone decrease virus removal by 0.04 µm and 0.22 µm membranes
- Humic acid alone increases virus removal by 0.04 µm and 0.22 µm membranes
- Cake formation can increase or decrease virus removal depending on cake properties
- Fouling affects virus removal via pore blockage and cake-enhanced deltaC_virus

virus removal

January 2015

Our paper Amjad, H.; Khan, Z.; Tarabara, V. V. Fractal structure and permeability of membrane cake layers: Effect of coagulation-flocculation and settling as pretreatment steps. Separ. Purif. Technol. 2015, 143, 40-51 is now published. We propose a simple method for estimating fractal dimension of membrane cakes (D) based on permeate flux data and Happel permeability model. We report a correlation, over a range of coagulation-flocculation condition, between D and the fractal dimension of flocs in the feed suspension. Financial support for Hira Amjad's year-long stay at MSU was provided by a scholarship from the Higher Education Commission and supplementary funding from the National University of Sciences & Technology, Pakistan.


- Inline, direct, and conventional pretreatments for ultrafiltration are studied
- New method for quantifying fractal dimension of membrane cakes is proposed
- Average porosity of membrane cakes increases with filtration time
- Fractal dimensions of flocs and membrane cakes weakly correlate
- Broad range of D_floc values maps onto a narrow range of D_cake values

Dcake determination

Illustration of the observed scaling that is indicative of the fractal structure of membrane cakes.
Scaling is shown only for the pretreatment condition that corresponds to
inline-contact filtration (i.e. coagulation and minimal flocculation)

September 2014

Claudio Calderon and Christopher Crock visit MEM-TEK and the Istanbul Technical University to prepare new graphene-based membranes, learn several experimental techniques, and attend an international workshop on membrane bioreactors. Our host is the research team led by Prof. Dr. Ismail Koyuncu, Director of MEM-TEK. The visit was a part of the project funded by the U.S. NSF Partnerships for International Research and Education (PIRE) program.

Left: Chris Crock and Reyhan Sengür making hollow fiber membranes
Right: Claudio Calderon is learning dynamic mechanical analysis (DMA) for membrane testing


July 2014

Bin Guo received Dissertation Completion Fellowship for Spring 2015 semester. Congratulation, Bin, and smooth sailing toward your PhD!

June  2014

Our paper on virus concentration has been accepted for publication in the Journal of Membrane Science:
Pasco, E. V.; Shi, H.; Xagoraraki, I.; Hashsham, S. A.; Parent, K. N.; Bruening, M. L.; Tarabara, V. V. Polyelectrolyte multilayers as anti-adhesive membrane coatings for virus concentration and recovery, J. Membr. Sci. 2014, 469, 140–150. This is a collaboration with our MSU colleagues Merlin Bruening (Chemistry), Syed Hashsham (Environmental Engineering), Irene Xagoraraki (Environmental Engineering), and Kristin Parent (Biochemistry and Molecular Biology).


- Anti-adhesive membrane coatings based on polyelectrolyte multilayers are designed
- Anti-adhesive membrane coatings increase pre-elution virus recovery up to 2-fold
- XDLVO virus–membrane interaction energies are computed
- Higher pre-elution recoveries can be attributed to PEM׳s anti-adhesiveness.

Elodie Hang JMS

June 2014

Emily Tummons completes four month research visit to the Singapore Membrane Technology Center (SMTC) at the Nanyang Technological University (NTU). In collaboration with NTU Professors Jia Wei Wang and Anthony Fane  our research group studies  behavior of oil droplets at the membrane surface. The visit was a part of the project funded by the U.S. NSF Partnerships for International Research and Education (PIRE) program.

Emily at SMTC

June 2014

Congratulations to Dr. Pejman Ahmadiannamini for being awarded European Membrane Society's Early Stage Researcher Grant.

June 2014

Our paper on virus concentration has been accepted for publication in the Journal of Membrane Science:
Pasco, E. V.; Shi, H.; Xagoraraki, I.; Hashsham, S. A.; Parent, K. N.; Bruening, M. L.; Tarabara, V. V. Polyelectrolyte multilayers as anti-adhesive membrane coatings for virus concentration and recovery. J. Membr. Sci. 2014, 469, 140–150.
This is a collaboration with our MSU colleagues Merlin Bruening (Chemistry), Syed Hashsham (Environmental Engineering), Irene Xagoraraki (Environmental Engineering), and Kristin Parent (Biochemistry and Molecular Biology).

April 2014

Congratulations to Brian Starr for the 1st place in the poster competition at the 2014 MSU Engineering Graduate Symposium (Environmental Engineering category). Brian presented poster "Produced Water
Treatment Using Hybrid Hydrocyclone-Membrane Technology"  based on the project he has been working on together with Dr. Andrii Gorobets. This is a collaboration between our group and our colleagues from MSU Departments of Mechanical Engineering (Dr. Benard's group) and Chemistry (Dr. Bruening's group).

mesocomposite UF membrane

January 2014

Congratulations to Claudio Calderon. His summer research has been recognized by 2013 Exemplary Summer Research Citation by the Committee on Institutional Cooperation, MSU Summer Research Opportunity Program and the University of Michigan.

November 2013

Congratulations to Emily Tummons for winning 1st place award for her presentation "Mechanisms of Membrane-Based Separations of Oil-Water Emulsions" in the Detection, Treatment and Modeling Technologies session  at the ESPP Research Symposium.

Emily ESPP Symposium

November 2013

Chris Crock, Hang Shi and Emily Tummons pass their PhD preliminary exams. Bin Guo and Hien Dang pass their qualifiers. Congratulations, folks!

November 2013

Our paper on polymer mesocomposite membranes has been accepted for publication in the Journal of Membrane Science: Dulebohn, J.; Ahmadiannamini, P.; Wang, T.; Kim, S.-S.; Pinnavaia, T. J.; Tarabara, V. V. Polymer mesocomposites: Ultrafiltration membrane materials with enhanced permeability, selectivity and fouling resistance.
J. Membr. Sci. 2014, 453, 478–488. This is a collaboration with Dr. Thomas Pinnavaia's research group.

mesocomposite UF membrane

September 2013

Our paper on the behavior of oil droplets in the vicinity of a micropore is published in the Journal of Membrane Science:  Darvishzadeh, T.; Tarabara, V. V.; Priezjev, N. V. Oil droplet behavior at a pore entrance in the presence of crossfow: Implications for microfiltration of oil-water dispersions. J. Membr. Sci. 2013, 447, 442-451. This is a collaboration with Dr. Nikolai Priezjev's research group.

oil droplet pinned at a micropore

Cross-sectional profiles of an oil droplet residing on the circular pore of 0.5 micron diameter
for several values of the capillary number, Ca.

June 2013

Our paper "Microsized particles of Aza222 polymer as a regenerable ultrahigh affinity sorbent for the removal of mercury from aqueous solutions" is accepted for publication in Separ. Purif. Technol. This is a collaboration with Dr. Ned Jackson's research group.

Adsorption isotherm for the mercury uptake by Aza222 sorbent

May 2013

Claudio Calderon (University of New Orleans) will be joining the group as an undergraduate researcher. Claudio will spend two months with us studying viscous fingering in oil-water systems.

December 2012:

Andrii Gorobets joins the group as a postdoctoral researcher.