Performance of Carbon Nanotube/Polysulfone (CNT/Psf) Composite Membranes during Oil-Water Mixture Separation: Effect of CNT Dispersion Method

Membranes (Basel). 2017 Mar 6;7(1):14. doi: 10.3390/membranes7010014.


Effect of the dispersion method employed during the synthesis of carbon nanotube (CNT)/polysulfone-infused composite membranes on the quality and separation performance of the membranes during oil-water mixture separation is demonstrated. Carbon nanotube/polysulfone composite membranes containing 5% CNT and pure polysulfone membrane (with 0% CNT) were synthesized using phase inversion. Three CNT dispersion methods referred to as Method 1 (M1), Method 2 (M2), and Method 3 (M3) were used to disperse the CNTs. Morphology and surface property of the synthesized membranes were checked with scanning electron microscopy (SEM) and Fourier-transform infrared (FTIR) spectroscopy, respectively. Separation performance of the membranes was evaluated by applying the membrane to the separation of oil-water emulsion using a cross-flow filtration setup. The functional groups obtained from the FTIR spectra for the membranes and the CNTs included carboxylic acid groups (O-H) and carbonyl group (C=O) which are responsible for the hydrophilic properties of the membranes. The contact angles for the membranes obtained from Method 1, Method 2, and Method 3 were 76.6° ± 5.0°, 77.9° ± 1.3°, and 77.3° ± 4.5°, respectively, and 88.1° ± 2.1° was obtained for the pure polysulfone membrane. The oil rejection (OR) for the synthesized composite membranes from Method 1, Method 2, and Method 3 were 48.71%, 65.86%, and 99.88%, respectively, indicating that Method 3 resulted in membrane of the best quality and separation performance.

Keywords: carbon nanotubes; composite membranes; mixed matrix membrane; oily wastewater; separation.