Development of hydrophilic GO-ZnO/PES membranes for treatment of pharmaceutical wastewater
Membrane application in water reclamation is challenged by fouling which deteriorates membrane performance in terms of permeate flux and solute rejection. Several studies focusing on antifouling membranes incorporated with nanoparticles have been carried out, but these membranes are not yet a viable solution due to their high energy requirements and inability to completely remove or degrade trace organic compounds (TOrCs). Therefore, this study aims at fabricating polyethersulfone (PES) membranes for treatment of pharmaceutical wastewater by using a unique membrane synthesis approach. PES membranes were synthesised by casting two different solutions before coagulation. Therefore, the synthesis technique was called ‘double-casting phase inversion’. The membranes were impregnated with nanohybrid graphene oxide-zinc oxide (GO-ZnO) to increase their hydrophilicity, rejection of pharmaceuticals (by decreasing membrane-solute hydrophobic interactions), resistance to organic fouling and photodegradation properties. The addition of GO-ZnO increased membrane hydrophilicity and pure water permeability. The rejection of TOrCs and anti-fouling properties were also improved due to a reduction in membrane-solute and membrane-foulant hydrophobic interactions, respectively. In addition to improved TOrC rejection properties and resistance to fouling, GO-ZnO/PES membranes degraded Brilliant Black.