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Antifouling performance of polytetrafluoroethylene and polyvinylidene fluoride ultrafiltration membranes during alkali/surfactant/polymer flooding wastewater treatment: Distinctions and mechanisms

Zhu, Youbing, Yu, Shuili, Zhang, Bing, Li, Jianfeng, Zhao, Dongsheng, Gu, Zhengyang, Gong, Chao, Liu, Guicai
The Science of the total environment 2018 v.642 pp. 988-998
Gibbs free energy, adhesion, adsorption, atomic force microscopy, chemical interactions, cleaning, fouling, hydraulic resistance, metal ions, polyacrylamide, polytetrafluoroethylene, surfactants, thermoplastics, ultrafiltration, wastewater, wastewater treatment
Alkali/surfactant/polymer (ASP) flooding wastewater is highly caustic, and membrane fouling is the main obstacle during ASP ultrafiltration (UF) treatment. To maintain favorable filtration performance, polytetrafluoroethylene (PTFE) and polyvinylidene fluoride (PVDF) membranes were implemented here, and their antifouling properties and mechanisms were investigated based on the threshold flux theory. Compared with the PVDF membranes, the PTFE membranes exhibited superior antifouling properties with lower reductions in flux and smaller hydraulic resistance, and they presented a nearly identical pseudo-stable fouling rate at a later time point. In the fouling layers of the PTFE and PVDF membranes, anion polyacrylamide (APAM) was observed along with divalent/trivalent metal ions. The thermodynamic and molecular mechanisms of membrane fouling by APAM were elucidated using the Extended Derjaguin–Landau–Verwey–Overbeek (XDLVO) theory and atomic force microscopy (AFM), respectively. The calculated total interfacial free energy (mJ/m2) of adhesion between the APAM and PTFE membranes was positive, and the value between the APAM and PVDF membranes was negative. Furthermore, the values and interaction distances of the measured intermolecular rupture and approaching forces were larger for APAM-PTFE than for APAM-PVDF. For the PTFE membranes, the positive free energies and smaller intermolecular interaction resulted in weaker APAM-PTFE adhesion and adsorption and therefore the lower levels of flux decline and the later achievement of the pseudo-stable fouling rate. Additionally, the total flux recoveries observed after physical cleaning reached 0.78–0.80 and 0.32–0.39 for the PTFE and PVDF membranes, respectively, which showed that the PTFE membranes can be cleaned easily. The PTFE membranes have considerable potential for extensive application in UF treatments for ASP wastewater. These results should promote understanding the essence of the threshold flux and the fouling control of UF membranes.