Impact of three-dimensional tortuous pore structure on polyethersulfone membrane morphology and mass transfer properties from a manufacturing perspective

  • Makoto FukudaEmail author
  • Hitoshi Saomoto
  • Tomohiro Mori
  • Hiroki Yoshimoto
  • Rei Kusumi
  • Kiyotaka Sakai
Original Article Artificial Kidney / Dialysis


We examined typical commercial poly(ethersulfone) (PESf) hemodialysis and hemoconcentration membranes successfully used in manufacturing, and employed scanning probe microscope (SPM) to achieve a structural observation of the pores in the inner membrane surfaces, as well as measure the pore diameters and their distribution, verifying the relationship between the typical mass transfer properties. We focused on the differences between the PESf membranes which were expected to further improve the advanced pore structure control and functional design for various medical uses. The three-dimensional tortuous capillary pores on the inner surface of hollow fiber hemodialysis and hemoconcentrator membranes were investigated using dynamic force microscopy (DFM), and the pore diameter and distribution were measured through a line analysis. Compared with PUREMA-A, PES-Sα hemodialysis membranes have smaller three-dimensional tortuous capillary pore diameters and pore areas, as well as a smaller pore diameter distribution and pore area distribution, which make the accurate measurements of the pore diameter using FE-SEM impossible. These PESf membranes are almost the same in pure water permeability, but greatly differ in pore diameter and pore diameter distribution. By comparing and verifying as above, we may gain insight into the flexibility, versatility, and superior structural and functional controllability of PESf membrane pore structures, which could advance the development of pore structure control. Pending issues include the fact that, using a line analysis software of SPM devices, it is very difficult to measure hundred pores which clearly reflects the poor quality of pore size distributions obtained in this study, measurement accuracy must be improved further.


Polyethersulfone Hollow fiber membrane Three-dimensional tortuous pore Scanning probe microscope (SPM) Tortuous capillary pore model 



Concentration (mg/mL)


Pure water permeability (mL/m2 h mmHg)


Volumetric flow rate of blood side (mL/min)


Filtration volumetric flow rate (mL/min)


Sieving coefficient (–)



Blood side


Dialysate side






Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of interest

This research did not receive any specific grant from funding agencies in the public, commercial, or not-for-profit sectors.


  1. 1.
    Annual Report, Fresenius Medical Care, 2017;1–236.Google Scholar
  2. 2.
    Matsuda M, Sakai K. Solute removal efficiency and biocompatibility of the high performance membrane—from engineering points of view. In: Saito A, Kawanishi H, Yamashita AC, Mineshima M, editors. High-performance membrane dialyzers. Contrib Nephrol. Basel: Karger. 2011; l73:11–22.Google Scholar
  3. 3.
    Namekawa K, Fukuda M, Matsuda M, Yagi Y, Yamamoto K, Sakai K. Nanotechnological characterization of human serum albumin adsorption on synthetic polymer dialysis membrane surfaces. ASAIO J. 2009;55:236–42. Scholar
  4. 4.
    Hayama M, Yamamoto K, Kohori F, Sakai K. How polysulfone dialysis membranes containing polyvinylpyrrolidone achieve excellent biocompatibility? J Membr Sci. 2004;234:41–9. Scholar
  5. 5.
    Krieter DH, Lemke HD. Polyethersulfone as a high-performance membrane. In: Saito A, Kawanishi H, Yamashita AC, Mineshima M, editors. High-performance membrane dialyzers. Contrib Nephrol. Basel: Karger. 2011;l73:130–136.Google Scholar
  6. 6.
    Irfan M, Idris A. Overview of PES biocompatible/hemodialysis membrane: PES-blood interaction and modification technique. Mater Sci Eng C. 2015;56:574–92. Scholar
  7. 7.
    Takeuchi M, Morita K, Iwasaki T, Toda Y, Oe K, Kawada M, Sano S. Significance of early extubation after pediatric cardiac surgery. Pediatr Cardiol Card Surg. 2001;17:405–9.Google Scholar
  8. 8.
    Lee EH, Chin JH, Choi IC, Hwang BY, Choo SJ, Song JG, Kim TY, Choi IC. Postoperative hypoalbuminemia is associated with outcome in patients undergoing off-pump coronary artery bypass graft surgery. J Cardiothorac Vasc Anesth. 2011;25:462–8.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. 9.
    Barzinb J, Fenga C, Khulbea KC, Matsuura T, Madaenic SS, Mirzadeh H. Characterization of polyethersulfone hemodialysis membrane by ultrafiltration and atomic force microscopy. J Membr Sci. 2004;237:77–85.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. 10.
    Kaleekkal NJ, Thanigaivelan A, Tarun M, Mohan D. A functional PES membrane for hemodialysis-preparation, characterization and biocompatibility. Chin J Chem Eng. 2015;23:1236–44. Scholar
  11. 11.
    Yua X, Shena L, Zhua Y, Lia X, Yanga Y, Wanga X, Zhua M, Hsiao BS. High performance thin-film nanofibrous composite hemodialysis membranes with efficient middle-molecule uremic toxin removal. J Membr Sci. 2017;523:173–84. Scholar
  12. 12.
    Qian-Cheng Xia, Mei-Ling Liu, Xue-Li Cao, Yong Wang, Weihong Xing. Structure design and applications of dual-layer polymeric membranes. J Membr Sci. 2018;562:85–111. Scholar
  13. 13.
    Igoshi T, Tomisawa N, Hori Y, Yoichi J. Polyester polymer alloy as a high performance membrane. In: Saito A, Kawanishi H, Yamashita AC, Mineshima M, editors. High-performance membrane dialyzers. Contrib Nephrol. Basel: Karger. 2011;l73:148–155.Google Scholar
  14. 14.
    Hiyoshi T. Is there a limit to the spinning processes of dialysis membranes? (in Japanese). Jin to Touseki. 1996;96:26–30.Google Scholar
  15. 15.
    Fukuda M, Miyazaki M, Hiyoshi T, Iwata M, Hongou T. Newly development biocompatible membrane (BIOREX AM-BC-F) and effects of its smoother surface on antithrombogenicity. J Appl Polym Sci. 1996;72:1249–56.;2-5.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. 16.
    Sakai K, Takesawa S, Mimura R, Ohashi H. Determination of pore radius of hollow fiber dialysis membranes using tritium-labeled water. J Chem Eng Jpn. 1998;21:207–10. Scholar
  17. 17.
    Sakai K. Determination of pore diameter and pore diameter distribution: 2. Dialysis membranes. J Membr Sci. 1994;96:91–130. Scholar
  18. 18.
    Hayama M, Kohori F, Sakai K. AFM observation of small surface pores of Hollow fiber dialysis membrane using highly sharpened probe. J Membr Sci. 2002;197:243–9. Scholar
  19. 19.
    Yamamoto K, Matsuda M, Hayama M, Yakushiji T, Fukuda M, Miyasaka T, Sakai K. Evaluation of asymmetrical structure dialysis membrane by tortuous capillary pore diffusion model. J Membr Sci. 2007;287:88–93. Scholar
  20. 20.
    Matsuda M, Yamamoto K, Yakushiji T, Fukuda M, Miyasaka T, Sakai K. Nanotechnological evaluation of protein adsorption on dialysis membrane surface hydrophilized with polyvinylpyrrolidone. J Membr Sci. 2008;310:219–28. Scholar
  21. 21.
    Yamazaki K, Matsuda M, Yamamoto K, Yakushiji T, Sakai K. Internal and surface structure characterization of cellulose triacetate Hollow fiber dialysis membranes. J Membr Sci. 2011;368:34–40. Scholar
  22. 22.
    Fournier RL, editor. Chapter 6 Mass transfer in heterogeneous materials. In: Basic transport phenomena in biomedical engineering, 4th edn. Boca Raton: CRC Press; 2017. pp 289–347.Google Scholar
  23. 23.
    Fukuda M, Saomoto H, Shimizu T, Namekawa K, Sakai K. Observation and proposed measurements of three-dimensional tortuous capillary pores with depth of hollow fiber hemoconcentrator membrane by using the dynamic force microscopy. Adv Biomed Eng. 2019;8:145–52. Scholar
  24. 24.
    Kawaguchi Y, Saito A, Naito H, Kim S, Mineshima M. New function classification of the blood purifier. Correspondence of the adaptation of hemocatharsis method (in Japanese). J Jpn Soc Dial Ther. 1999;32:1465–9.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. 25.
    Boschetti-de-Fierro A, Beck W, Hildwein H, Krause B, Storr M, Zweigart C. Membrane innovation in dialysis. In: Ronco C, editor. Expanded hemodialysis—innovative clinical approach in dialysis. Contrib Nephrol. Basel: Karger. 2017;191:100–114.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© The Japanese Society for Artificial Organs 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Biomedical EngineeringKindai UniversityKinokawaJapan
  2. 2.Industrial Technology Center of Wakayama PrefectureWakayamaJapan
  3. 3.Professor Emeritus of Chemical EngineeringWaseda UniversityTokyoJapan

Personalised recommendations