Synthesis and performance of antifouling and self-cleaning polyethersulfone/graphene oxide composite membrane functionalized with photoactive semiconductor catalyst
This study was performed to synthesize membranes of polyethersulfone (PES) blended with graphene oxide (GO) and PES blended with GO functionalized with photoactive semiconductor catalyst (TiO2 and ZnO). The antifouling and self-cleaning properties of composite membranes were also investigated. The GO was prepared from natural graphite powder by oxidation method at low temperature. TiO2 and ZnO nanopowders were synthesized by anhydrous sol–gel method. The surface of TiO2 and ZnO nanopowders was modified by a surfactant (myristic acid) to obtain a homogeneously dispersed mixture in a solvent, and then GO was functionalized by loading with these metal oxide nanopowders. The PES membranes blended with GO and functionalized GO into the casting solution were prepared via phase inversion method and tested for their antifouling as well as self-cleaning properties. The composite membranes were synthesized as 14%wt. of PES polymer with three different concentrations (0.5, 1.0, and 2.0%wt.) of GO, GO-TiO2, and GO-ZnO. The functionalization of membranes improved hydrophilicity property of membranes as compared to neat PES membrane. However, the lowest flux was obtained by functionalized membranes with GO-TiO2. The results showed that functionalized membranes demonstrated better self-cleaning property than neat PES membrane. Moreover, the flux recovery rate of functionalized membranes over five cycles was higher than that of neat membrane.