Modification of nanofiber support layer for thin film composite forward osmosis membranes via layer-by-layer polyelectrolyte deposition

Publication Type:
Journal Article
Membranes, 2018, 8 (3)
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© 2018 by the authors. Licensee MDPI, Basel, Switzerland. Electrospun nanofiber-supported thin film composite membranes are among the most promising membranes for seawater desalination via forward osmosis. In this study, a high-performance electrospun polyvinylidenefluoride (PVDF) nanofiber-supported thin film composite (TFC) membrane was successfully fabricated after molecular layer-by-layer polyelectrolyte deposition. Negatively-charged electrospun polyacrylic acid (PAA) nanofibers were deposited on electrospun PVDF nanofibers to form a support layer consisted of PVDF and PAA nanofibers. This resulted to a more hydrophilic support compared to the plain PVDF nanofiber support. The PVDF-PAA nanofiber support then underwent a layer-by-layer deposition of polyethylenimine (PEI) and PAA to form a polyelectrolyte layer on the nanofiber surface prior to interfacial polymerization, which forms the selective polyamide layer of TFC membranes. The resultant PVDF-LbL TFC membrane exhibited enhanced hydrophilicity and porosity, without sacrificing mechanical strength. As a result, it showed high pure water permeability and low structural parameter values of 4.12 L m−2 h−1 bar−1 and 221 µm, respectively, significantly better compared to commercial FO membrane. Layer-by-layer deposition of polyelectrolyte is therefore a useful and practical modification method for fabrication of high performance nanofiber-supported TFC membrane.
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