Post-fabrication modification of forward osmosis membranes with a poly(ethylene glycol) block copolymer for improved organic fouling resistance

Devin L. Shaffer, Humberto Jaramillo, Santiago Romero-Vargas Castrillón, Xinglin Lu, Menachem Elimelech

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

61 Scopus citations

Abstract

Facile and effective strategies are needed to modify forward osmosis (FO) membranes for improved resistance to organic fouling. Fouling resistant FO membranes will advance the commercial implementation of FO for treating feed waters with high fouling potential, such as wastewater and brines. We report a membrane modification technique for post-fabrication grafting of a poly(ethylene glycol) (PEG) block copolymer to the surface of commercial thin-film composite (TFC) FO membranes via an amide coupling reaction. The PEG concentration for membrane modification is optimized based on increased membrane hydrophilicity and reduced water permeability that result from increasing PEG concentrations during modification. Modified membranes exhibit improved resistance to organic fouling compared to unmodified control membranes when exposed to an aggressive synthetic wastewater mixture. The fouling resistance is achieved despite the non-uniform grafting of PEG, which is attributed to the limited accessibility of carboxylic group binding sites on the membrane surface. The fouling resistance of membranes modified using this post-fabrication technique compares favorably to TFC-FO membranes modified using other procedures. The modification technique we report in this work has the advantages of being relatively inexpensive, easy to implement, and applicable to commercial membranes.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)209-219
Number of pages11
JournalJournal of Membrane Science
Volume490
DOIs
StatePublished - Sep 5 2015

Keywords

  • Forward osmosis
  • Fouling
  • Membrane
  • Poly(ethylene glycol)
  • Surface modification

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