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Membranes 2018, 8(3), 77;

Graphene Oxide (GO)-Blended Polysulfone (PSf) Ultrafiltration Membranes for Lead Ion Rejection

School of Engineering, RMIT University, Melbourne, VIC 3000, Australia
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Received: 9 August 2018 / Revised: 31 August 2018 / Accepted: 31 August 2018 / Published: 6 September 2018
(This article belongs to the Section Membrane Preparation and Characterization)
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Graphene oxide (GO) has been widely reported and used for treatment of heavy metals from different waste streams. Although their use as additives for membranes has greatly enhanced membrane properties, there is still a bottleneck in obtaining membranes with high heavy-metal rejection efficiencies while maintaining high flux, mechanical strength, and porosity. In the present study, different compositions of GO (0–1 wt %)-blended membranes were prepared using 1-methyl-2-pyrrolidone (NMP) as solvent and water with 5% ethanol as non-solvent, and studied for the rejection of the chosen model heavy-metal lead. The prepared membranes were characterized for hydrophilicity, membrane porosity, flux, permeability, pore-size, mechanical strength, and membrane morphology. From the results, it was inferred that membranes having maximum GO in their blend (1 wt %) showed better hydrophilicity (water contact angle 34.2°), porosity (82.2%), permeability (52.1 L/m2 h bar), and pure water flux (163.71 L/m2 h) at 3-bar pressure as opposed to other compositions. The pore sizes of the membranes ranged between 18 to 24 nm. Tensile strength tests showed the role of GO as a positive reinforcement on the mechanical properties of membranes through Young’s modulus (188.13 ± 15.36 MPa) for the membrane having 0.25 wt % GO composition. Environmental Scanning Electron Microscopy (ESEM) images displayed the dense top layer supported by a porous, finger-like structure, obtained from instantaneous de-mixing favored by NMP and GO. The observed reduction in flux of lead solution for GO-blended membranes was due to osmotic pressure build-up caused by the retained nitrate salt by GO on the retentate side of the membrane. A maximum rejection of 98% was achieved with 1 wt % GO membrane at 1-bar pressure with flux of 43.62 L/m2 h, which decreased to 94% at 3-bar pressure with flux of 142.95 L/m2 h. These results showed how the application of NMP as solvent and GO as an additive could facilitate in obtaining high-flux and high-rejection membranes. View Full-Text
Keywords: graphene-oxide (GO); 1-methyl-2-pyrrolidone (NMP); lead (Pb); cross-flow filtration; ultrafiltration (UF) membranes graphene-oxide (GO); 1-methyl-2-pyrrolidone (NMP); lead (Pb); cross-flow filtration; ultrafiltration (UF) membranes

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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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Ravishankar, H.; Christy, J.; Jegatheesan, V. Graphene Oxide (GO)-Blended Polysulfone (PSf) Ultrafiltration Membranes for Lead Ion Rejection. Membranes 2018, 8, 77.

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