Robust poly(lactic acid) membranes improved by polysulfone-g-poly(lactic acid) copolymers for hemodialysis†
Poly(lactic acid) (PLA) is a sustainable membrane candidate for liquid separation and purification. However, the inherent brittleness restrains its practical application, especially for a porous membrane with thin thickness and high porosity. We aim to prepare PLA membranes with controlled pore structure and dialysis performance with improved mechanical and thermal stability by incorporating polysulfone-graft-poly(lactic acid) (PSf-g-PLA) copolymer. Different from the common rubbery elastomer, the brush-like PSf-g-PLA copolymer with a rigid backbone chain and soft side chains was elaborately synthesized to toughen and modify PLA membranes via a phase inversion process. 1H NMR, FTIR and GPC were conducted to determine the structure and molecular weight of the PSf-g-PLA. The influences of chloromethylation substitution and the content of copolymer on the membrane microstructure, the mechanical and thermal stability, and the dialysis performance were investigated in detail. It was demonstrated that the modified PLA membrane exhibited a pure water flux of 54 L m−2 h−1, 95% rejection to BSA, and 65% and 18% clearance of urea and lysozyme, respectively. Besides, both mechanical and thermal stability of the modified PLA membrane were improved by incorporating brush-like PSf-g-PLA.