DOI: 10.3390/membranes14010001 ISSN: 2077-0375

A Selective Separation Mechanism for Mono/divalent Cations and Properties of a Hollow-Fiber Composite Nanofiltration Membrane Having a Positively Charged Surface

Enlin Wang, Xinghua Lv, Shaoxiao Liu, Qiang Dong, Jiayue Li, Honghai Li, Baowei Su
  • Filtration and Separation
  • Chemical Engineering (miscellaneous)
  • Process Chemistry and Technology

Positively charged nanofiltration (NF) technology is considered a green and low-cost method for mono/divalent cation separation. Nevertheless, the separation rejection mechanisms of these NF membranes have yet to be extensively investigated. In this work, we fabricated a thin-film composite (TFC) hollow-fiber (HF) NF membrane with a positively charged surface via modification of the nascent interfacial polymerization layer using a branched polyethyleneimine (BPEI)/ethanol solution. Then, we extensively investigated its selective separation mechanism for mono/divalent cations. We proposed and proved that there exists a double-charged layer near the membrane surface, which helps to repel the divalent cations selectively via Donnan exclusion while promoting the fast penetration of monovalent cations. Meanwhile, the membrane skin layer is loose and hydrophilic due to the loose BPEI structure and the abundance of amine groups, as well as the changed fabrication conditions. In this way, we achieved very good mono/divalent cation selectivity and relatively high water permeance for the as-prepared HF NF membrane. We also obtained good anti-fouling, anti-scaling, and acid resistance, and long-term stability as well, which are urgently needed during practical application. Furthermore, we successfully amplified this HF NF membrane and proved that it has broad application prospects in mono/divalent cation separation.

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