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How Do Polyethylene Glycol and Poly(sulfobetaine) Hydrogel Layers on Ultrafiltration Membranes Minimize Fouling and Stay Stable in Cleaning Chemicals?

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King Abdullah University of Science and Technology (KAUST), Biological and Environmental Science and Engineering Division (BESE), Thuwal 23955-6900, Saudi Arabia
Lehrstuhl für Technische Chemie II, Universität Duisburg-Essen, 45117 Essen, Germany
*Mathias Ulbricht. Email address: [email protected]. Tel.: +49 201 1833151.
*Suzana Nunes. Email address: [email protected]. Tel.: +966 544700052.
Cite this: Ind. Eng. Chem. Res. 2017, 56, 23, 6785–6795
Publication Date (Web):May 18, 2017
Copyright © 2017 American Chemical Society

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    Abstract Image

    We compare the efficiency of grafting polyethylene glycol (PEG) and poly(sulfobetaine) hydrogel layer on poly(ether imide) (PEI) hollow-fiber ultrafiltration membrane surfaces in terms of filtration performance, fouling minimization and stability in cleaning solutions. Two previously established different methods toward the two different chemistries (and both had already proven to be suited to reduce fouling significantly) are applied to the same PEI membranes. The hydrophilicity of PEI membranes is improved by the modification, as indicated by the change of contact angle value from 89° to 68° for both methods, due to the hydration layer formed in the hydrogel layers. Their pure water flux declines because of the additional permeation barrier from the hydrogel layers. However, these barriers increase protein rejection. In the exposure at a static condition, grafting PEG or poly(sulfobetaine) reduces protein adsorption to 23% or 11%, respectively. In the dynamic filtration, the hydrogel layers minimizes the flux reduction and increases the reversibility of fouling. Compared to the pristine PEI membrane that can recover its flux to 42% after hydraulic cleaning, the PEG and poly(sulfobetaine) grafted membranes can recover their flux up to 63% and 94%, respectively. Stability tests show that the poly(sulfobetaine) hydrogel layer is stable in acid, base and chlorine solutions, whereas the PEG hydrogel layer suffers alkaline hydrolysis in base and oxidation in chlorine conditions. With its chemical stability and pronounced capability of minimizing fouling, especially irreversible fouling, protective poly(sulfobetaine) hydrogel layers have great potential for various membrane-based applications.

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    The Supporting Information is available free of charge on the ACS Publications website at DOI: 10.1021/acs.iecr.7b01241.

    • SEM image of the membrane surface, FTIR characterization before and after treatments in different pH and chlorine solutions and spinning conditions (PDF)

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