Main content area

Mixed Matrix Polytetrafluoroethylene/Polysulfone Electrospun Nanofibrous Membranes for Water Desalination by Membrane Distillation

Khayet, Mohamed, Wang, Rong
ACS applied materials & interfaces 2018 v.10 no.28 pp. 24275-24287
aqueous solutions, desalination, distillation, hydrophobicity, nanofibers, nanoparticles, polytetrafluoroethylene, sodium chloride, temperature, transmission electron microscopy
The electrospinning technique was used successfully to fabricate nanofibers of polysulfone (PSF) in which polytetrafuoroethylene nanoparticles (PTFE NPs) were embedded. The size of the PTFE NPs is only 1.7 to 3.6 times smaller than the nanofiber diameter. The transition from hydrophobic to superhydrophobic character of the bead-free PSF electrospun nanofiber mats occurred with a PTFE NPs loading in the range 12–18% of the PSF weight. Transmission electron microscopy images revealed protruding nanosized asperities on the fiber surface due to the embedded PTFE NPs in the PSF matrix. For low PTFE NPs content in PSF matrix (<6% of the polymer weight), the PTFE NPs were arranged one by one in a single file along the PSF nanofiber axis. The structural characteristics of the nanofibers and electrospun nanofibrous membranes (ENMs) were studied by means of different techniques and their relationship with the PTFE NPs loading in PSF were discussed. The PSF/PTFE ENMs were tested in desalination by direct contact membrane distillation (DCMD) and the obtained performance was discussed in terms of the ENMs structural characteristics. Competitive permeate fluxes, as high as 39.5 kg/m²h, with stable low permeate electrical conductivities (<7.145 μS/cm) for 30 g/L NaCl aqueous solution and transmembrane temperature of 60 °C were achieved without detecting any interfiber space wetting.