Improving membrane distillation performance: Morphology optimization of hollow fiber membranes with selected non-solvent in dope solution

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Journal Article
Chemosphere, 2019, 230 pp. 117 - 126
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© 2019 Elsevier Ltd This study aimed at improving membrane distillation (MD) performance by mixing various non-solvents (NSs) in polymer dope solutions. The effect of each NS on the inner structure and surface morphology of hollow fiber (HF) membrane was investigated. Membrane morphology is manipulated by controlling liquid-liquid (L-L) and solid-liquid (S-L) demixing time, which is a function of the viscosity and water affinity of dope solutions. Consequently, the addition of NSs altered membrane morphology by affecting the diffusion rate during NS induced phase separation (NIPS) process. The performance results showed that the dope solution composed of 11/71.2/17.8 wt% polyvinylidene fluoride (PVDF)/triethyl phosphate (TEP)/toluene produced the most promising HF membrane for MD. The optimal membrane demonstrated a unique bicontinuous structure with increased porosity and mean pore size. The addition of toluene as NS in dope solutions enhanced crystallization process, which increased the Young's modulus of membrane but slightly decreased its maximum tensile strength at break. The optimal PVDF HF membrane demonstrated a steady flux of 18.9 LMH at 60 °C/20 °C of feed/permeate temperatures and a salt rejection of 99.99% when tested for 72 h. The results suggest that incorporation of toluene as a NS into PVDF dope solutions can increase permeation performance in MD by enhancing the morphology of HF membranes.
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