journal article

Electro-sorption and -desorption characteristics of electrically conductive polyacrylonitrile membranes to remove aqueous natural organic matter in dead-end ultrafiltration system


Electrically conductive (EC) membranes have emerged as an innovative approach in removing natural organic matter (NOM) by electro-sorption (e-sorption) when external anodic potential (AP) is applied. In this study, the EC membranes were established by a forming a porous nanolayer of Pt nanoparticles via magnetron sputtering on both sides of virgin and chemically modified PAN ultrafiltration (UF) membranes. The modified PAN membranes were functionalized with ethylenediamine (PAN-EDA) and sodium hydroxide (PAN-NaOH). The virgin PAN membrane material contains nitrile group and demonstrated a negative zeta potential in the analyzed pH range. The PAN-EDA membrane owned amidine and amine groups, whereas PAN-NaOH membrane possessed carboxyl and amide groups in the membrane matrix. The PAN-NaOH and PAN-EDA membranes exhibited isoelectric points at 3.7 and 7.8, respectively. Electrical field-assisted UF experiments were conducted with Suwannee River NOM in dead-end mode and NOM removal was monitored using different methods of NOM characterization (e.g., SEC, DOC and UV254 absorbance). The results revealed that the non-electrically conductive (NEC) and EC virgin PAN membranes exhibited almost no intrinsic adsorption (at 0 V external potential) and e-sorption of NOM at 2.5 V AP respectively. However, NEC PAN-NaOH and PAN-EDA membranes showed DOC intrinsic sorption loadings of 17 mg·m−2 and 258 mg·m−2 at permeate flux 100 L·m−2·h−1 and pH 7 respectively. In comparison, the DOC e-sorption loadings of the EC PAN-NaOH and EC PAN-EDA membranes at 2.5 V AP were 197 mg·m−2 and 525 mg·m−2 under same test conditions respectively. The NOM e-desorption characteristics of the EC modified PAN membranes were also investigated to regenerate membranes for a sustainable filtration process. The results indicated that the EC PAN-NaOH and PAN-EDA membranes can be regenerated by reversing the electrical polarity almost completely. In conclusions, the outcomes of this work confirm that the presence of the derivatives of amines (e.g., amines, amidine and amide groups) and carboxyl group are necessary in the membrane matrix to induce e-sorption and -desorption characteristics.
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