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Enhanced performance of conductive polysulfone/MWCNT/PANI ultrafiltration membrane in an online fouling monitoring application

Yuan, Xue-Shuang, Guo, Zhi-Ying, Geng, Hong-Zhang, Rhen, Danielle S., Wang, Luda, Yuan, Xiao-Tong, Li, Jianxin
Journal of membrane science 2019 v.575 pp. 160-169
artificial membranes, bovine serum albumin, carbon nanotubes, electrochemistry, fouling, industrialization, mixing, monitoring, nanofibers, pollutants, pollution, polymers, porosity, ultrafiltration, water treatment
Membrane fouling is an inevitable aspect of water treatment that severely limits membrane performance. Therefore, simple and effective membrane fouling monitoring methods are highly sought after to assess the level of fouling before damage occurs or membrane replacement is necessary. Here, conductive blended ultrafiltration (UF) membranes prepared by blending conducting polyaniline (PANI) nanofibers and multi-walled carbon nanotubes (MWCNTs) in a polysulfone (PSF) matrix were applied to an online fouling monitoring system. The UF blended membranes with higher porosity and larger pores than the pristine PSF membrane exhibited higher conductivity and water flux (196 L m−2 h−1). An in-house crossflow cell connected to an electrochemical workstation was used to measure the resistance by linear sweep voltammetry (LSV) in order to monitor the fouling process. The blended UF membrane simultaneously achieved a bovine serum albumin (BSA) rejection of 94.2% and a significant resistance drop in response to BSA pollutant caking. It is the first study to monitor fouling using LSV. Exploring the relationship and trends between the permeate flux and membrane resistance provided a theoretical basis for practical applications and enabled online monitoring of the degree of pollution, demonstrating promising potential for industrialization.