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Integral hollow fiber membrane with chemical cross-linking for pressure retarded osmosis operated in the orientation of active layer facing feed solution

Li, Ye, Zhao, Shanshan, Setiawan, Laurentia, Zhang, Lizhi, Wang, Rong
Journal of membrane science 2018 v.550 pp. 163-172
artificial membranes, crosslinking, energy, fouling, harvesting, porosity, reverse osmosis, sodium chloride, wastewater
Pressure retarded osmosis (PRO) is an innovative technique to yield osmotic energy. Nevertheless, the PRO performance is exacerbated by the severe membrane fouling occurring within the porous support. It is a potential alternative for sustainable power harvesting to change the membrane orientation from active layer facing draw solution (AL−DS) or PRO mode to active layer facing feed solution (AL−FS) or FO mode for a low-fouling propensity. A novel integral PRO hollow fiber membrane was developed in this work by phase inversion and followed with a facile cross-linking post-treatment. The structure and properties of the resultant membrane were systematically investigated using a series of characterization protocols. The PRO performance of the membrane was studied under various hydraulic pressures at the AL−FS orientation. The results reveal that the substrate with sponge-like structure and relatively dense inner surface can better withstand high pressure in PRO process. Two steps of cross-linking endowed the membrane with a smaller pore size on the outer surface that exhibits high rejection against various inorganic salts. The novel integral membrane can achieve a stable power density output around 4.3Wm−2 at 12 ~ 13bar hydraulic pressure, using a real wastewater reverse osmosis (RO) retentate and 1.0M sodium chloride as the feed and draw stream, correspondingly. This result demonstrates that the PRO operation in the AL−FS orientation (FO mode) offers a significant advantage over the AL−DS orientation (PRO mode) by eliminating the pretreatment of the feed water or/and other measures associated with membrane fouling control in the PRO mode. To implement the PRO operation with the AL−FS orientation, developing a robust membrane with an integral structure is critical. The newly developed integral hollow fiber membrane via chemical cross-linking presents the potential for PRO operation in the AL−FS orientation.