High-Performance Nanosilver Thin Film Nanocomposite Membranes Prepared on Carbon Nanotube-Based Supports
Biofouling in membranes is a serious concern as it leads to a severe reduction in membrane performance by increasing the membranesâ€™ resistance to permeate flow. This work describes a facile method for the production of high performance nanosilver polyamide thin-film nanocomposite (TFN) membranes on carbon nanotube-based supports for biofouling control. The TFN membranes were prepared by the interfacial polymerization of a thin polyamide layer over a polyethersulfone (PES) support layer. Nanosilver (nAg) particles were generated in-situ on the surface of the polyamide layer using a reduction reaction between a silver salt and sodium borohydride. The support layer of the TFN membrane contained nitrogen doped multi-walled carbon nanotubes (N-MWCNTs) at various dosages. The SEM/EDS microscopic analyses revealed that nAg particles were present on the polyamide layer and that they were evenly distributed throughout the TFN membrane. Furthermore, the TFN membrane showed an improved water permeability (from 16.74 L/m2.h to 22.86 L/m2.h at 150 Psi) without sever compromise in NaCl rejection (from 98.37% to 99.40%) compared to the bare TFC membrane. This was attributable to the combined hydrophilic effects imparted by the presence of nAg on the TFN polyamide layer and the oxidised CNTs in the support layer. Antibacterial tests conducted using Escherichia coli bacteria demonstrated that the TFN containing nAg particles membranes exude better antibacterial activity compared to the pristine TFC membrane as evidenced by a clear zone of inhibition, in the area surrounding the TFN membrane and the absence of bacterial colonies. The present study demonstrated that the presence of low dosages of CNTs in the support layer is essential in the improvement of mechanical strength and performance properties of the support layer, while nAg plays a crucial role in the enhancement of TFN membrane performance.
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