Low fouling polysulfone ultrafiltration membrane via click chemistry

Hydrophilic surfaces are known to be less prone to fouling. Ultrafiltration membranes are frequently prepared from rather hydrophobic polymers like polysulfone (PSU). Strategies to keep the good pore forming characteristics of PSU, but with improved hydrophilicity are proposed here. PSU functionalized with 1,2,3-triazole ring substituents containing OH groups was successfully synthesized through click chemistry reaction. The structures of the polymers were confirmed using NMR spectroscopy and Fourier transform infrared spectroscopy (FTIR). High thermal stability (>280°C) was observed by thermal gravimetric analysis. Elemental analysis showed the presence of nitrogen containing triazole group with different degrees of functionalization (23%, 49%, 56%, and 94%). The glass transition temperature shifted with the introduction of triazole pendant groups from 190°C (unmodified) to 171°C. Ultrafiltration membranes were prepared via phase inversion by immersion in different coagulation baths (NMP/water mixtures with volume ratios from 0/100 to 40/60). The morphologies of these membranes were studied by field emission scanning electron microscopy (FESEM). The optimized PSU bearing triazole functions membranes exhibited water permeability up to 187 L m-2 h-1 bar-1, which is 23 times higher than those prepared under the same conditions but with unmodified polysulfone (PSU; 8 L m-2 h-1 bar-1). Results of bovine serum albumin protein rejection test indicated that susceptibility to fouling decreased with the modification, due to the increased hydrophilicity, while keeping high protein rejection ratio (>99%).

Xie, Y., Tayouo, R., & Nunes, S. P. (2014). Low fouling polysulfone ultrafiltration membrane via click chemistry. Journal of Applied Polymer Science, 132(21), n/a–n/a. doi:10.1002/app.41549

The work was partially funded by the KAUST Competitive Research Grant program (CRG2).


Journal of Applied Polymer Science


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