Tensile deformation of polytetrafluoroethylene hollow fiber membranes used for water purification

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The tensile deformation behavior of polytetrafluoroethylene (PTFE) hollow fiber membranes is studied. PTFE membranes at present have sub-micron pores with an open cell structure, which plays a critical role in water purification. One of the main challenges in water purification is that the pore structure becomes covered with biofouling, leading to blocked pores. To maintain the capacity for water purification, physical cleaning along with mechanical deformation is usually conducted. Thus, it is crucial to understand the mechanical properties, in particular the deformation behavior, of the membrane fibers. Using uniaxial tension experiments, we established a fundamental discrete model to describe the deformation behavior of a porous structure using a finite element method. The present model enables the prediction of the macroscopic deformation behavior of the membrane, by taking into account the changes of pore structure. The insight may be useful for porous membrane fabrication and provide insights for the reliable operation of water purification.

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