KAUST DepartmentPhysical Sciences and Engineering (PSE) Division
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AbstractThe focus of this dissertation was the development, synthesis and modification of polymers for the preparation of membranes for organic solvent nanofiltration. High chemical stability in a wide range of solvents was a key requirement. Membranes prepared from synthesized polymers as well as from commercial polymers were designed and chemically modified to reach OSN requirements. A solvent stable thin-film composite (TFC) membrane is reported, which is fabricated on crosslinked polythiosemicarbazide (PTSC) as substrate. The membranes exhibited high fluxes towards solvents like THF, DMF and DMSO ranging around 20 L/m2 h at 5 bar with a MWCO of around 1000 g/mol. Ultrafiltration PTSC membranes were prepared by non-solvent induced phase separation and crosslinked with GPTMS. The crosslinking reaction was responsible for the formation of an inorganic-type-network that tuned the membrane pore size. The crosslinked membranes acquired high solvent stability in DMSO, DMF and THF with a MWCO above 1300 g/mol. Reaction Induced Phase Separation (RIPS) was introduced as a new method for the preparation of skinned asymmetric membranes. These membranes have two distinctive layers with different morphologies both from the same polymer. The top dense layer is composed of chemically crosslinked polymer chains while the bottom layer is a porous structure formed by non-crosslinked polymer chains. Such membranes were tested for vitamin B12 in solvents after either crosslinking the support or dissolving the support and fixing the freestanding membrane on alumina. Pebax® 1657 was utilized for the preparation of composite membranes by simple coating. Porous PAN membranes were coated with Pebax® 1657 which was then crosslinked using TDI. Crosslinked Pebax® membranes show high stability towards ethanol, propanol and acetone. The membranes were also stable in DMF once crosslinked PAN supports were used. Sodium alginate polymer was investigated for the preparation of thin film composite membranes. Composite membranes were prepared using PAN and crosslinked PAN supports; these membranes were tested for methanol and DMF. Freestanding nanofilms fixed on alumina were also tested for methanol and DMF as well as many other harsh solvents. The alginate composite membranes showed excellent solvent stability and good permeances and a MWCO of around 1300 g/mol.