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High-Performance Water Filtration Membranes using Surface Modification and New Materials

  • Author(s): Huang, Xinwei
  • Advisor(s): Kaner, Richard B
  • et al.
Abstract

Water scarcity is one of the most critical challenges faced by mankind and it is only getting worse due to source pollution and rising population. There is critical need for the development of water filtration membranes in order to treat polluted water and turn water from non-potable sources such as waste waster and ocean water into freshwater for human consumption and agricultural irrigation. Filtration Membranes are generally classified into four categories: microfiltration (MF), ultrafiltration (UF), nanofiltration (NF) and reverse osmosis (RO), with decreasing pore size for rejecting different sized substances. Commercial filtration membranes are able to provide decent flux and rejection for their targeted applications. However, most of them suffer from fouling issues when the microorganisms and organic matter such as proteins and polysaccharides in the water source deposit onto the membrane surface, impeding the permeation of water and lowering the flux. Therefore, it is of high demand to develop membranes that are anti-fouling. Foulants such as protein particles adhere to the membrane surface via hydrophobic interactions. In order to minimize such effects, a typical way is to increase the hydrophilicity of the membrane by surface modification or by utilizing hydrophilic membrane materials. Foulants also tend to get trapped in the open “pores” on a rough membrane surface with ridges and valleys. It is then expected that a smoother membrane surface tend to lessen such effects. Incorporating antimicrobial properties into the membrane is also an effective way to reduce fouling as this inhibits the growth of microorganisms on the membrane surfaces. New materials are also used to fabricate membranes with improved performance. Conducting polymers have recently been discovered as a new category of membrane-making materials that are hydrophilic and low-fouling. A new type of polyaniline derivative has been used to fabricate UF membranes that demonstrate chlorine resistance and anti-fouling properties. Nanostructured polyanilines are highly processable and possess unique properties that can be used in the membrane field as well as many other applications such as sensors, electrochromic devices, supercapacitors and antistatic coatings with enhanced performance, as described in a review section at the end of this thesis.

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