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Organic fouling in surface modified reverse osmosis membranes: Filtration studies and subsequent morphological and compositional characterization

Shafi, Hafiz Zahid, Matin, Asif, Akhtar, Sultan, Gleason, Karen K., Zubair, Syed M., Khan, Zafarullah
Journal of membrane science 2017 v.527 pp. 152-163
Fourier transform infrared spectroscopy, artificial membranes, coatings, desalination, filtration, fouling, reverse osmosis, scanning electron microscopy, sodium alginate, zwitterions
In this article, we report effect of surface coatings on organic fouling in reverse osmosis (RO) desalination membranes at the two operating pressure extremes of 20.7 and 55.2bar. The surface of commercial RO membranes was modified by depositing surface-enriched zwitterionic films in order to achieve enhanced organic fouling resistance. Antifouling performance of both the surface-modified and bare (uncoated) RO membranes was evaluated under cross-flow filtration conditions in the presence of sodium alginate (SA). Filtration studies of the model organic foulant solution showed that both reversible and irreversible flux declines were significantly lower and, as a result, considerably higher flux recovery was achieved after simple hydraulic flushing in the surface-modified membranes when compared to virgin RO membranes. The FE-SEM analysis revealed that foulant deposition on the surface of the modified membranes was patchy/irregular and porous in structure at both lower and higher pressures as opposed to dense and continuous foulant deposition with full coverage of bare membranes with SA at both low and high operating pressures. FTIR scans also qualitatively confirmed a higher amount of SA deposition and revealed that the foulant deposition is further enhanced at higher operating pressure of 55.2bar on the surface of bare membranes.