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Appl. Sci. 2017, 7(1), 78; doi:10.3390/app7010078

Improving Nanofiber Membrane Characteristics and Membrane Distillation Performance of Heat-Pressed Membranes via Annealing Post-Treatment

Centre for Technology in Water and Wastewater, School of Civil and Environmental Engineering, University of Technology Sydney (UTS), 15 Broadway, Ultimo NSW 2007, Australia
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Academic Editor: Enrico Drioli
Received: 16 December 2016 / Revised: 23 December 2016 / Accepted: 5 January 2017 / Published: 12 January 2017
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Membrane Distillation)
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Abstract

Electrospun membranes are gaining interest for use in membrane distillation (MD) due to their high porosity and interconnected pore structure; however, they are still susceptible to wetting during MD operation because of their relatively low liquid entry pressure (LEP). In this study, post-treatment had been applied to improve the LEP, as well as its permeation and salt rejection efficiency. The post-treatment included two continuous procedures: heat-pressing and annealing. In this study, annealing was applied on the membranes that had been heat-pressed. It was found that annealing improved the MD performance as the average flux reached 35 L/m2·h or LMH (>10% improvement of the ones without annealing) while still maintaining 99.99% salt rejection. Further tests on LEP, contact angle, and pore size distribution explain the improvement due to annealing well. Fourier transform infrared spectroscopy and X-ray diffraction analyses of the membranes showed that there was an increase in the crystallinity of the polyvinylidene fluoride-co-hexafluoropropylene (PVDF-HFP) membrane; also, peaks indicating the α phase of polyvinylidene fluoride (PVDF) became noticeable after annealing, indicating some β and amorphous states of polymer were converted into the α phase. The changes were favorable for membrane distillation as the non-polar α phase of PVDF reduces the dipolar attraction force between the membrane and water molecules, and the increase in crystallinity would result in higher thermal stability. The present results indicate the positive effect of the heat-press followed by an annealing post-treatment on the membrane characteristics and MD performance. View Full-Text
Keywords: membrane distillation; post-treatment; annealing; PVDF-HFP; crystallinity membrane distillation; post-treatment; annealing; PVDF-HFP; crystallinity
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This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited. (CC BY 4.0).

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MDPI and ACS Style

Yao, M.; Woo, Y.C.; Tijing, L.D.; Cesarini, C.; Shon, H.K. Improving Nanofiber Membrane Characteristics and Membrane Distillation Performance of Heat-Pressed Membranes via Annealing Post-Treatment. Appl. Sci. 2017, 7, 78.

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