Functionalization of PEG-AgNPs Hybrid Material to Alleviate Biofouling Tendency of Polyethersulfone Membrane

Polymers (Basel). 2022 May 7;14(9):1908. doi: 10.3390/polym14091908.

ABSTRACT

Membrane-based processes are a promising technology in water and wastewater treatments, to supply clean and secure water. However, during membrane filtration, biofouling phenomena severely hamper the performance, leading to permanent detrimental impacts. Moreover, regular chemical cleaning is ineffective in the long-run for overcoming biofouling, because it weakens the membrane structure. Therefore, the development of a membrane material with superior anti-biofouling performance is seen as an attractive option. Hydrophilic-anti-bacterial precursor polyethylene glycol-silver nanoparticles (PEG-AgNPs) were synthesized in this study, using a sol-gel method, to mitigate biofouling on the polyethersulfone (PES) membrane surface. The functionalization of the PEG-AgNP hybrid material on a PES membrane was achieved through a simple blending technique. The PES/PEG-AgNP membrane was manufactured via the non-solvent induced phase separation method. The anti-biofouling performance was experimentally measured as the flux recovery ratio (FRR) of the prepared membrane, before and after incubation in E. coli culture for 48 h. Nanomaterial characterization confirmed that the PEG-AgNPs had hydrophilic-anti-bacterial properties. The substantial improvements in membrane performance after adding PEG-AgNPs were evaluated in terms of the water flux and FRR after the membranes experienced biofouling. The results showed that the PEG-AgNPs significantly increased the water flux of the PES membrane, from 2.87 L·m-2·h-1 to 172.84 L·m-2·h-1. The anti-biofouling performance of the PES pristine membrane used as a benchmark showed only 1% FRR, due to severe biofouling. In contrast, the incorporation of PEG-AgNPs in the PES membrane decreased live bacteria by 98%. It enhanced the FRR of anti-biofouling up to 79%, higher than the PES/PEG and PES/Ag membranes.

PMID:35567077 | PMC:PMC9102394 | DOI:10.3390/polym14091908

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