Graduate Research and Discovery Symposium (GRADS)


Improving the Performance of Membranes used for the Treatment of Impaired Waters

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Reduction in water transport (flux) due to fouling is one of the largest costs associated with membrane processes in water treatment. The key to minimizing the energy intensity of membrane-based water treatment systems is designing membranes with high water transport and low fouling propensity. The fouling propensity of a membrane depends greatly on foulant type, operating conditions, and membrane surface properties. Literature and experience show that modification of membrane surfaces with chemical coatings can be effective but not sufficient for controlling membrane fouling. The observation that physical patterning of a membrane surface can improve its fouling resistance provides an orthogonal membrane design parameter. The objective of this project is to develop fouling-resistant membranes. To attain the project objective, we carried out a systematic study to understand the roles of membrane surface properties using home-made crossflow filtration module. Different pattern was applied by embossing commercial nanofiltration and ultrafiltration membranes. Small molecules such as methylene blue and BSA as foulant model were applied to study the foulant behavior on membrane surface. Results of this study suggest that combining physical patterning on a membrane surface is an effective strategy for designing membranes with a low propensity for fouling by colloidal nanoparticles.

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