Kumar, Sreedhar, Jaoude, Arafat (2020) High-Flux, Antifouling Hydrophilized Ultrafiltration Membranes with Tunable Charge Density Combining Sulfonated Poly(ether sulfone) and Aminated Graphene Oxide Nanohybrid ACS applied materials & interfaces 12(1) 1617-1627


In this work, a new protocol was developed for creating charge-tuned, hydrophilic hybrid ultrafiltration (UF) membranes with high flux, rejection rate, and fouling resistance. The membranes were fabricated using a combination of sulfonated poly(ether sulfone) (SPES) and aminated graphene (GO-SiO2-NH2) nanohybrid via the non-solvent-induced phase separation (NIPS) method. The GO-SiO2-NH2 nanohybrid was first synthesized using GO nanosheets and 3-aminopropyl triethoxysilane (APTES) through the covalent condensation reaction at 80 °C and was thoroughly characterized. Then, 2-8 wt% of the nanohybrid was incorporated into the matrix of SPES for the fabrication of the hybrid membranes. The resulting membranes were characterized using an electrokinetic analyzer, a contact angle goniometer, and Raman, field emission scanning electron microscopy-energy-dispersive X-ray spectrometry (FESEM-EDX), and atomic force microscopy experiments. The porosity, charge density, and surface morphology were altered, and the hybrid membranes became more hydrophilic after the incorporation of the nanohybrid. The pure water flux of the hybrid membranes systematically increased with the loading amount of the nanohybrid. The pure water flux of the hybrid membrane containing 6 wt% GO-SiO2-NH2 nanohybrid at a 2 bar feed pressure was 537 L m-2 h-1, about 3-fold that of pristine membrane (186 L m-2 h-1). The fouling resistance of the hybrid membranes was evaluated and confirmed using several representative foulants, including bovine serum albumin, humic acid, sodium alginate, and a synthetic solution of natural organic matter (NOM). The fabricated membranes were capable of removing more than 97% of NOM, without a compromise of their rejection rate.