Main content area

Energy barriers to anion transport in polyelectrolyte multilayer nanofiltration membranes: Role of intra-pore diffusion

Sigurdardottir, Sigyn B., DuChanois, Ryan M., Epsztein, Razi, Pinelo, Manuel, Elimelech, Menachem
Journal of membrane science 2020 v.603 pp. 117921
artificial membranes, electrolytes, energy, fluorides, hydrodynamics, models, nanofiltration, porosity, solutes
We investigated the relative contributions of intra-pore diffusion (via membrane thickness) and partitioning into nanofiltration (NF) membrane pores (via membrane pore size and ion hydration energy) to the apparent energy barriers for ion transport in NF membranes. Using polyelectrolyte layer-by-layer assembly, we independently altered NF membrane thickness as well as membrane pore size and then determined the apparent energy barriers to bromide and fluoride transport through the fabricated membranes. Membrane thickness and pore size were estimated using an AFM scratch technique and the hydrodynamic pore transport model, respectively. By increasing the number of polyelectrolyte bilayers from four to ten, the polyelectrolyte film thickness increased from 28 to 77 nm, while the apparent energy barriers to bromide transport through the membranes with four, seven, and ten bilayers were negligibly affected (4.4, 3.4, and 3.9 kcal mol⁻¹, respectively, at 1.7 bar). Instead, we found that solute flux and the apparent energy barriers to ion transport were significantly affected by both membrane pore size and ion hydration energy. Overall, our results support the traditional energy barrier-based models for ion transport in membranes and the recently proposed notion that ion dehydration at the solution-membrane interface is the rate-limiting step during transport through NF membranes.