In Situ Surface Chemical Modification of Thin-Film Composite Forward Osmosis Membranes for Enhanced Organic Fouling Resistance

Xinglin Lu, Santiago Romero-Vargas Castrillon, Devin L. Shaffer, Jun Ma, Menachem Elimelech

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Forward osmosis (FO) is an emerging membrane-based water separation process with potential applications in a host of environmental and industrial processes. Nevertheless, membrane fouling remains a technical obstacle affecting this technology, increasing operating costs and decreasing membrane life. This work presents the first fabrication of an antifouling thin-film composite (TFC) FO membrane by an in situ technique without postfabrication treatment. The membrane was fabricated and modified in situ, grafting Jeffamine, an amine-terminated poly(ethylene glycol) derivative, to dangling acyl chloride surface groups on the nascent polyamide active layer. Surface characterization by contact angle, Fourier transform infrared spectroscopy (ATR-FTIR), X-ray photoelectron spectroscopy (XPS), zeta potential, atomic force microscopy (AFM), and fluorescence microscopy, confirms the presence of Jeffamine on the membrane surface. We demonstrate the improved fouling resistance of the in situ modified membranes through accelerated dynamic fouling FO experiments using a synthetic wastewater feed solution at high concentration (250 mg/L) of alginate, a model macromolecule for the hydrophilic fraction of wastewater effluent organic matter. Our results show a significantly lower flux decline for the in situ modified membranes compared to pristine polyamide (14.3 ± 2.7% vs 2.8 ± 1.4%, respectively). AFM adhesion force measurements between the membrane and a carboxylate-modified latex particle, a surrogate for the organic (alginate) foulant, show weaker foulant–membrane interactions, further confirming the enhanced fouling resistance of the in situ modified membranes.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)12219-12228
JournalEnvironmental Science and Technology
Volume47
Issue number21
Early online date16 Oct 2013
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 5 Nov 2013

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