Multi-walled carbon nanotubes (MWCNTs) mixed polyacrylonitrile (PAN) ultrafiltration membranes


Hydroxyl functionalized multi-walled carbon nanotubes (MWCNTs) were blended with polyacrylonitrile (PAN) to prepare ultrafiltration membranes by a phase inversion process. Three different concentrations of MWCNTs were used in PAN, i.e. 0.5, 1 and 2 wt%. The water flux of the membranes increased by 63% at 0.5 wt% loading of MWCNTs compared to neat PAN membranes. The water flux decreased upon further increase in the concentration of MWCNTs, but at 2 wt% loading it was still higher compared to pure PAN membranes. The surface hydrophilicity of the membranes was enhanced upon the addition of MWCNTs, as observed by contact angle measurements. The increased hydrophilicity might have an impact on the improved water flux. All the membranes showed a molecular weight cut off (MWCO) of approximately 50 kg/mol. Surface pore size analysis by scanning electron microscopy (SEM) showed no significant difference in the mean pore size of the nanocomposite membranes compared to the neat membranes. The cross section morphology was influenced by the introduction of MWCNTs where less but enlarged macrovoids were observed, particularly prominent at a loading of 2 wt% MWCNTs. The membranes containing 2 wt% MWCNTs showed 36% improvement in resistance against compaction compared to neat membranes. Furthermore, the tensile strength of the membranes at 2 wt% MWCNTs loading increased over 97% compared to neat ones.
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