Nano CuO/g-C3N4 sheets-based ultrafiltration membrane with enhanced interfacial affinity, antifouling and protein separation performances for water treatment application

Thanigaivelan Arumugham , Reshika Gnanamoorthi Amimodu , Noel Jacob Kaleekkal , Dipak Rana


Received January 10, 2019,Revised , Accepted March 04, 2019, Available online March 09, 2019

Volume 31,2019,Pages 57-69

To improve the interfacial affinity and antifouling properties of polyphenylsulfone (PPSU) membrane, nano CuO/g-C3N4 (g-CN) sheets were synthesized via facile calcination route as one pot synthesis method. The uniformly assembled nanohybrid fillers, CuO on g-CN sheets were confirmed by using XRD, TEM, EDX and FTIR analysis. The non-solvent induced phase inversion technique was used to fabricate the nanohybrid ultrafiltration (UF) membranes by doping different concentration (0.5–1 wt.%) of nano CuO/g-C3N4 (g-CN) sheets within the PPSU matrix. The results of contact angle, atomic force microscopy, energy-dispersive X-ray spectroscopy reveal that surface structure and physico-chemical properties of nanohybrid membrane plays lead role in solute interaction and rejection compared to bare membrane, M0. Furthermore, the interfacial affinity of membrane was explored in detail via surface free energy, spreading coefficient, wetting tension and reversible work of adhesion analysis. Nanohybrid UF membrane, with 0.5% of the filler (M1) displayed remarkable permeation flux of 202, 131 L/m2/hr for pure water and protein solution, respectively while maintaining a high protein rejection (96%). Moreover, the exceptional dispersion of the nanosheets in the polymer matrix enhanced FRR (79%) and decreased the overall resistance of M1 compared to the pristine membrane (M0). Overall results suggest that the incorporation of nano sheets is a facile modification technique which improves the comprehensive membrane performance and holds a great potential to be further explored for water treatment.

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