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Issue 40, 2010
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Mechanisms of solute rejection in solvent resistant nanofiltration: the effect of solvent on solute rejection

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The separation performance of solvent resistant nanofiltration (SRNF) membranes was studied in a systematic way to elucidate the complex mechanisms involved in rejection of solutes. Rejection of three dyes (Sudan II, Sudan Black, Sudan 408) from common organic solvents (methanol, ethanol, acetone, methyl ethyl ketone, toluene and n-hexane) through a polyimide based SRNF membrane, STARMEM™122, was studied. It was found that the rejection of the STARMEM™122 membrane was lower than that indicated by the manufacturer. The experimental observations for Sudan II were not promising for the rejection study as they were lower than expected. Sudan Black and Sudan 408, which are larger solutes than Sudan II, provided more interesting insights. The effects of the solvent on the membrane and solute were studied separately. A higher permeation rate of ketones and alcohols was observed, while permeabilities of non-polar solvents were low which shows that this membrane shows higher affinity toward semi-polar solvents (alcohols, ketones). The effect of the solvent on the solute's rejection, based on the results for Sudan Black and Sudan 408, was studied for solvents in the same chemical groups, since the membrane showed a similar separation performance for solvents with similar functional groups (e.g. alcohols). The effect of solvent on solute molecular size was investigated by using simulation with Molecular Dynamics. It was shown that the effective size of a molecule is dependent on the solvent due to solvation and hydration of the solute by the solvent. The size of the solute in the solvent belonging to a similar family was studied separately. It was clear that the rejection was influenced by molecular size of the solute in the same group of solvents. A surprising negative rejection of solutes was achieved for n-hexane. Although solutes in n-hexane have higher volume compared to those in other solvents, the affinity between the solute and membrane increases the solute permeation in the presence of n-hexane. The affinity of solvent and solute for the membrane was investigated by means of solubility parameters for solvents within the same chemical family. In two different systems including two different solvents and one solute (Sudan Black and methanol, Sudan Black and ethanol), lower rejection (in this case for Sudan Black and methanol) was achieved when the solutes have higher affinity toward the solvent. Finally, it was found that in a system comprising the solvent, solute and membrane, interactions between solvent and membrane have much more effect on separation than solvent–solute interactions.

Graphical abstract: Mechanisms of solute rejection in solvent resistant nanofiltration: the effect of solvent on solute rejection

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Article information

15 Apr 2010
09 Aug 2010
First published
15 Sep 2010

Phys. Chem. Chem. Phys., 2010,12, 13333-13342
Article type

Mechanisms of solute rejection in solvent resistant nanofiltration: the effect of solvent on solute rejection

S. Darvishmanesh, J. Degrève and B. Van der Bruggen, Phys. Chem. Chem. Phys., 2010, 12, 13333
DOI: 10.1039/C0CP00230E

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