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Graphene oxide as effective selective barriers on a hollow fiber membrane for water treatment process

Goh, Kunli, Setiawan, Laurentia, Wei, Li, Si, Rongmei, Fane, Anthony G., Wang, Rong, Chen, Yuan
Journal of membrane science 2015 v.474 pp. 244-253
Reynolds number, artificial membranes, crosslinking, graphene oxide, hydrodynamics, mechanical properties, nanofiltration, nanosheets, permeability, porosity, water treatment
The use of nanotechnology in water separation membranes is a promising approach to alleviate the global water crisis. Graphene oxide (GO) with its unique water transport property has exhibited high potential for application in the water treatment processes. In this study, we have designed and fabricated a novel nanofiltration (NF)-like GO surface deposited poly(amide-imide)–polyethyleneimine (PAI–PEI) hollow fiber membrane. The PAI hollow fiber substrate was prepared by phase inversion and modified with PEI to obtain a positively charged membrane surface. The negatively charged GO nanosheets were then electrostatically immobilized onto the membrane surface via an instant dip-coating to form the NF-like selective layer. Our results have shown that the GO nanosheets serve as effective selective barriers and can achieve higher water permeability up to 86% without compromising membrane selectivity when used to substitute part of the PEI cross-linked selective layer. This is attributed to the smaller hydrodynamic resistance of GO nanosheets and their ability to effectively narrow the pore size distribution. Moreover, shortening of the membrane modification time and better mechanical properties of the GO modified membrane can be attained by avoiding excessive PEI cross-linking. The GO deposition also exhibits good stability when subjected to a backwashing pressure of 100,000 Pa and a cross-flow rate of 600mL/min, which corresponds to a velocity of 14cm/s and a Reynolds number of ~870. These results have demonstrated a high potential of using this GO modified hollow fiber membrane for large scale water softening applications.