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Ar/O2 plasma treatment of carbon nanotube membranes for enhanced removal of zinc from water and wastewater: A dynamic sorption-filtration process

Ali, Sharafat, Shah, Izaz Ali, Ahmad, Aziz, Nawab, Javed, Huang, Haiou
The Science of the total environment 2019 v.655 pp. 1270-1278
X-ray photoelectron spectroscopy, adsorption, carbon nanotubes, contact angle, hydrophilicity, metal ions, microfiltration, oxygen, wastewater, water treatment, zinc
In this study, pristine multi-walled carbon nanotubes (MWCNTs) were functionalized by using Ar/O2 plasma treatment technique, which enhanced adsorptive membrane filtration of zinc ions from water and wastewater. The XPS analysis showed that plasma treatment largely increased the surface oxygen groups content of MWCNTs from 2.78% to 6.79%. This change increased the surface negative charged, dispersion and adsorption properties of MWCNTs without causing any damages to the integrity of the nanotube pattern. Pressure-driven filtration of plasma-treated MWCNT (P-CNT) dispersion formed a stable layer inside the lumen of a hollow fiber membrane. The contact angle analysis demonstrated that after incorporation of P-CNT into the HF membrane increased membrane hydrophilicity. The P-CNT membrane effectively removed almost 100% of zinc from synthetic waters and approximately 80% of zinc from a wastewater effluent by surface complexation reaction. A follow-up regeneration study demonstrated that the adsorptive removal of zinc by the CNT membrane was reversible under selected conditions, thus making it possible to repeatedly use the membrane for long-term zinc filtration. This study suggests that HF membranes modified with P-CNTs possess superb adsorption properties for metal ions, allowing the operation of CNT membranes for water treatment.