Recent Advances in Thin Film Composite (TFC) Reverse Osmosis and Nanofiltration Membranes for Desalination
Reverse osmosis (RO) by polymeric membranes is known to be among the successful technologies for brackish and seawater desalination. For the development of these polymeric RO membranes, two different techniques have been used â€“ the phase inversion method for asymmetric membranes, such as cellulose acetate membrane and the interfacial polymerization for thin film composite (TFC) membranes. Despite the high quality of the water produced by TFCâ€“RO process, TFC membranes are susceptible to fouling. After a long period of academic and industrial researches, it is generally accepted that hydrophilicity, surface charge, and surface roughness of the TFC membrane surface are the major factors which affect the membrane susceptibility to fouling. As a result, several recent studies have focused on tailoring these properties with the aim of producing TFC membranes with reduced fouling as well as enhanced flux and salt rejection for use in desalination.
In this study, authors present a comprehensive summary of the most recent findings in the literature focusing on the enhancement of TFC RO and nanofiltration membrane performance in desalination applications, by tailoring membrane characteristics. The authors would then present a new concept for the preparation of TFC membranes by interfacial polymerization on porous polysulfone support using novel additives, namely, surface modifying macromolecules (SMMs). Hydrophilic SMMs (LSMMs) were synthesized both exâ€“situ and inâ€“situ within the organic solvent of the TFC system. The RO performance results showed that the addition of the exâ€“situ LSMM significantly decreased the salt rejection of the membrane and slightly reduced the flux, while in the case of the inâ€“situ LSMM, salt rejection was improved but the flux declined at different rates for different LSMM concentrations. The membrane prepared by the inâ€“situ LSMM exhibited less flux decay over an extended operational period.
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