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Functionalization of a Hydrophilic Commercial Membrane Using Inorganic-Organic Polymers Coatings for Membrane Distillation

VITO-Flemish Institute for Technological Research, Boeretang 200, 2400 Mol, Belgium
Department of Chemical Engineering, KU Leuven, Celestijnenlaan 200F, B-3001 Leuven, Belgium
Fraunhofer Institute for Silicate Research ISC, Neunerplatz 2, 97082 Würzburg, Germany
Department of Chemical Engineering, Cluster Sustainable Chemical Process Technology, KU Leuven, Gebroeders Desmetstraat 1, B-9000 Ghent, Belgium
Faculty of Engineering and the Built Environment, Tshwane University of Technology, Private Bag X680, Pretoria 0001, South Africa
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Academic Editor: Faisal Hai
Appl. Sci. 2017, 7(6), 637;
Received: 3 May 2017 / Revised: 13 June 2017 / Accepted: 16 June 2017 / Published: 20 June 2017
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Wastewater Treatment and Reuse Technologies)
PDF [7234 KB, uploaded 20 June 2017]


Membrane distillation is a thermal separation technique using a microporous hydrophobic membrane. One of the concerns with respect to the industrialization of the technique is the development of novel membranes. In this paper, a commercially available hydrophilic polyethersulfone membrane with a suitable structure for membrane distillation was modified using available hydrophobic coatings using ORMOCER® technology to obtain a hydrophobic membrane that can be applied in membrane distillation. The surface modification was performed using a selection of different components, concentrations, and application methods. The resulting membranes can have two hydrophobic surfaces or a hydrophobic and hydrophilic surface depending on the application method. An extensive characterization procedure confirmed the suitability of the coating technique and the obtained membranes for membrane distillation. The surface contact angle of water could be increased from 27° up to 110°, and fluxes comparable to membranes commonly used for membrane distillation were achieved under similar process conditions. A 100 h test demonstrated the stability of the coating and the importance of using sufficiently stable base membranes. View Full-Text
Keywords: hydrophobic coatings; direct contact membrane distillation (DCMD); polyethersulfone; ORMOCER®; wetting hydrophobic coatings; direct contact membrane distillation (DCMD); polyethersulfone; ORMOCER®; wetting

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Eykens, L.; Rose, K.; Dubreuil, M.; De Sitter, K.; Dotremont, C.; Pinoy, L.; Van der Bruggen, B. Functionalization of a Hydrophilic Commercial Membrane Using Inorganic-Organic Polymers Coatings for Membrane Distillation. Appl. Sci. 2017, 7, 637.

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