Grafting polysiloxane onto ultrafiltration membranes to optimize surface energy and mitigate fouling†
Conventional approaches to mitigate fouling of membrane surfaces impart hydrophilicity to the membrane surface, which increases the water of hydration and fluidity near the surface. By contrast, we demonstrate here that tuning the membrane surface energy close to that of the dispersive component of water surface tension (21.8 mN m−1) can also improve the antifouling properties of the membrane. Specifically, ultrafiltration (UF) membranes were first modified using polydopamine (PDA) followed by grafting of amine-terminated polysiloxane (PSi-NH2). For example, with 2 g L−1 PSi-NH2 coating solution, the obtained coating layer contains 53% by mass fraction PSi-NH2 and exhibits a total surface energy of 21 mN m−1, decreasing the adsorption of bovine serum albumin by 44% compared to the unmodified membrane. When challenged with 1 g L−1 sodium alginate in a constant-flux crossflow system, the PSi-NH2-grafted membrane exhibits a 70% lower fouling rate than the pristine membrane at a water flux of 110 L (m2 h)−1 and good stability when cleaned with NaOH solutions.