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Polydopamine coating on a thin film composite forward osmosis membrane for enhanced mass transport and antifouling performance

Guo, Hao, Yao, Zhikan, Wang, Jianqiang, Yang, Zhe, Ma, Xiaohua, Tang, Chuyang Y.
Journal of membrane science 2018 v.551 pp. 234-242
alginates, antifouling activities, coatings, fouling, hydraulic resistance, hydrophilicity, mass transfer, models, permeability, reverse osmosis, solutes, surface roughness, thin film composite membranes
We applied a polydopamine (PDA) coating on a thin film composite (TFC) forward osmosis (FO) membrane and investigated the effects of coating on FO mass transport and antifouling behavior. The PDA coating significantly improved membrane surface hydrophilicity as well as reduced membrane surface roughness. Using a short PDA coating duration of 0.5 h, the coated membrane TFC-C0.5 achieved enhanced FO water flux and reduced reverse solute diffusion simultaneously. The reduced reverse solute diffusion can be attributed to the enhanced membrane selectivity: TFC-C0.5 had better rejection and similar water permeability compared to the original TFC membrane. This reduction in reverse solute diffusion further reduced the internal concentration polarization inside the coated membrane, leading to an enhanced FO water flux. Nevertheless, longer PDA coating duration of 1–4 h resulted in reduced FO water flux due to the significantly increased hydraulic resistance of the coated membranes. The PDA coated membrane TFC-C0.5 also presented an improved antifouling performance compared to the control membrane using alginate as a model foulant. Our results reveal the great room for the development of effective coating materials in FO: a well-designed coating with high selectivity and low hydraulic resistance can improve solute rejection, reduce reverse solute diffusion, mitigate internal concentration polarization and enhance FO water flux in addition to control fouling. Such unprecedented opportunities break the traditional trade-off between water flux and antifouling performance when coating pressure driven reverse osmosis membranes.