The poor dispensability of pristine carbon nanotubes in water impedes their implications in thin-film nanocomposite membranes for crucial utilities such as water purification. In this work, high-flux positively charged nanocomposite nanofiltration membranes were exploited by uniformly embedding poly(dopamine) modified multiwall carbon nanotubes (PDA-MWCNTs) in polyamide thin-film composite membranes. With poly(dopamine) modification, fine dispersion of MWCNTs in polyethyleneimine (PEI) aqueous solutions was achieved, which was interracially polymerized with trimesoyl chloride (TMC) n-hexane solutions to prepare nanocomposite membranes. The compatibility and interactions between modified MWCNTs and polyamide matrix were enhanced, attributed to the poly(dopamine) coatings on MWCNT surfaces, leading to significantly improved water permeability. At optimized conditions, pure water permeability of the PEI/PDA-MWCNTs/TMC nanofiltration membrane (M-4) was 15.32 L m(-2) h(-1) bar(-1), which was ∼1.6 times increased compared with that of pristine PEI/TMC membranes. Salt rejection of M-4 to different multivalent cations decreased in the sequence ZnCl2 (93.0%) > MgCl2 (91.5%) > CuCl2 (90.5%) ≈ CaCl2, which is well-suited for water softening and heavy metal ion removal.
Keywords: multiwall carbon nanotubes; nanocomposite; nanofiltration membrane; poly(dopamine); polyethyleneimine.