Ceramic membranes suffer from rapid permeability loss during filtration of organic matter due to their fouling propensity. To address this problem, iron oxide ultrafiltration membranes were coated with poly(sulfobetaine methacrylate) (polySBMA), a superhydrophilic zwitterionic polymer. The ceramic-organic hybrid membrane was characterized by scanning electron microscopy (SEM) and optical profilometry (OP). Membranes with and without polySBMA coating were subjected to fouling with bovine serum albumin solution. Hydraulic cleaning was significantly more effective for the coated membrane than for the non-coated one, as 56%, 66%, and 100% of the fouling was removed for the first, second, and third filtration cycle, respectively. Therefore, we can highlight the improved cleaning due to an increased fouling reversibility. Although some loss of polymer during operation was detected, it did not affect the improved behavior of the tested membranes.
Keywords: ceramic membranes; iron oxide; membrane fouling; zwitterionic polymer.