Fouling mitigation in humic acid ultrafiltration using polysulfone/SAPO-34 mixed matrix membrane

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Although ultrafiltration (UF) membranes are applicable in wastewater and water treatment, most UF membranes are hydrophobic and susceptible to severe fouling by natural organic matter. In this work, polysulfone (PSf) membrane was blended with silicaluminophosphate (SAPO) nanoparticles, SAPO-34, to study the effect of SAPO-34 incorporation in humic acid (HA) fouling mitigation. The casting solution was prepared by blending 5–20 wt% of SAPO-34 nanoparticles into the mixture of PSf, 1-methyl-2-pyrrolidinone and polyvinyl alcohol at 75 °C. All membrane samples were then prepared using the phase inversion method. Blending SAPO-34 zeolite into PSf membranes caused augmentation in surface hydrophilicity and pore size, leading to higher water permeation. In the HA filtration test, mixed matrix membranes (MMMs) with SAPO-34 zeolite showed reduced HA fouling initiated from pore blocking. The MMM with 20 wt% SAPO-34 loading exhibited the highest increment of water permeation (83%) and maintained about 75% of permeate flux after 2.5 h. However, the SAPO-34 fillers agglomerated in the PSf matrix and induced macrovoid formation on the membrane surface when excessive zeolite was added.

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