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Antibiofouling thin-film composite membranes (TFC) by in situ formation of Cu-(m-phenylenediamine) oligomer complex

B. Rodríguez, D. Oztürk, M. Rosales, M. Flores, A. García
Journal of materials science 2018 v.53 no.9 pp. 6325-6338
Escherichia coli, Fourier transform infrared spectroscopy, X-ray diffraction, X-ray photoelectron spectroscopy, atomic force microscopy, chlorides, contact angle, copper, desalination, fluorescence microscopy, hydrophilicity, ions, moieties, oxygen, polyamides, polymerization, reverse osmosis, scanning electron microscopy, surface roughness, thin film composite membranes, toxicity
In situ formation of a Cu-(m-phenylenediamine) (Cu-mPD) oligomer complex from copper chloride during the interfacial polymerization process was successfully employed to produce modified thin-film composite reverse osmosis membranes (TFC-RO) with antibiofouling properties. Membranes were characterized by field emission scanning electron microscopy, Fourier transform infrared spectroscopy (FTIR), X-ray photoelectron spectroscopy (XPS), X-ray diffraction (XRD), atomic force microscopy, and contact angle measurements. Antibiofouling properties were studied using a colony-forming unit test with Escherichia coli. Moreover, an antiadhesion test was developed using fluorescence microscopy. Membrane performance using a cross-flow cell was evaluated, and copper concentration in permeate water was measured. FTIR, XPS and XRD results confirmed the formation of a Cu-mPD oligomer complex and its incorporation into the polyamide layer. A mechanism for formation of the oligomer within the membrane was proposed based on the interaction between the oxygen of the carbonyl group of the polyamide layer and copper ion of the Cu-mPD oligomer complex. The modified membrane showed a slight decrease in hydrophilicity and higher surface roughness. However, excellent antibacterial and antiadhesion effects were observed, attributed to copper toxicity as a result of Cu²⁺ ions release from the membrane surface. Release of copper ions in the permeate water was determined, and the maximum value observed was considered negligible according to the World Health Organization. The desalination performance of modified membrane showed an important salt rejection with stable water flux. In conclusion, a novel chemical method for the incorporation of Cu-mPD oligomer complex into the polyamide layer of TFC-RO membranes to improve their antibiofouling properties and desalination performance was achieved.