News Release

A promising solution to improve the surface hydrophobicity of hydrophobic membrane

Peer-Reviewed Publication

Higher Education Press

As we all know, membrane distillation (MD) process has gained increasing popularity and attention for saline treatment especially because of its extremely high salt rejection (the theoretical value up to 100%). In MD, the hydrophobic membrane serves core and significant part to realize two phases separation. However, the existing membrane wetting phenomenon always restricts the long-term stable operation and separation efficiency.

Zhaoliang Cui, a professor comes from the College of Chemical Engineering of Nanjing Tech University, and the co-workers of the present study, found one promising solution to solve this problem by preparing hydrophobic poly(vinlidene fluoride-co-hexafluoro propylene) (PVDF-HFP) copolymer membrane to improve surface hydrophobicity. This study was published online in Frontiers of Chemical Science and Engineering on March 28, 2022.

In this study, one hydrophobic fluorinated polymer material, PVDF-HFP, was chosen as the membrane material to prepare porous membrane for membrane distillation application. The thermally induced phase separation (TIPS) method was employed to prepare membrane, which is a common fabrication way. In order to decrease harmfulness due to the volatilization of used solvent at high temperature during TIPS process, the green and environmentally friendly diluent, acetyl tributyl citrate (ATBC) was used.

According to the phase diagram of PVDF-HFP/ATBC system, there was a wide liquid–liquid phase region among the range of prepared polymer concentration (25–40 wt%), indicating that the liquid–liquid phase separation happens. As a result, the final bi-continuous structure can be obtained. The pore connectivity, permeability and mechanical properties of such structure will benefit the mass transfer during separation process. The surface contact angle, porosity, tensile strength and elongation at break of these prepared membrane in this study were up to 123.87o, 60.43%, 5.89 MPa and 396.85%, respectively.

Then the prepared PVDF-HFP membranes were applied in membrane distillation process treating 3.5 wt% NaCl saline. Firstly, the based desalination performance was tested at different feed temperatures, which showed that the permeate flux kept proportional to the feed temperature. This is consistent with common sense. Moreover, for a longer testing period, the prepared membrane had a stable membrane distillation flux and was not wetted (the permeated conductivity was always around 2–3 mS·cm−1). These are all exciting and satisfied results.

Cui and his team will continue their study on the preparation of hydrophobic or superhydrophobic membrane for membrane distillation application. They hope to prepare enough excellent hydrophobic membranes and achieve the final goal of zero liquid discharge of wasted saline to recycle the industrial raw materials and water resource.


Reference: Jun Pan et al (2022). Poly(vinylidene fluoride-co-hexafluoro propylene) membranes prepared via thermally induced phase separation and application in direct contact membrane distillation, Frontiers of Chemical Science and Engineering DOI: 10.1007/s11705-021-2098-y


About Higher Education Press

Founded in May 1954, Higher Education Press Limited Company (HEP), affiliated with the Ministry of Education, is one of the earliest institutions committed to educational publishing after the establishment of P. R. China in 1949. After striving for six decades, HEP has developed into a major comprehensive publisher, with products in various forms and at different levels. Both for import and export, HEP has been striving to fill in the gap of domestic and foreign markets and meet the demand of global customers by collaborating with more than 200 partners throughout the world and selling products and services in 32 languages globally. Now, HEP ranks among China's top publishers in terms of copyright export volume and the world's top 50 largest publishing enterprises in terms of comprehensive strength.

The Frontiers Journals series published by HEP includes 28 English academic journals, covering the largest academic fields in China at present. Among the series, 13 have been indexed by SCI, 6 by EI, 2 by MEDLINE, 1 by A&HCI. HEP's academic monographs have won about 300 different kinds of publishing funds and awards both at home and abroad.

About Frontiers of Chemical Science and Engineering

Frontiers of Chemical Science and Engineering presents the latest developments in chemical science and engineering, emphasizing emerging and multidisciplinary fields and international trends in research and development. The journal promotes communication and exchange between scientists all over the world. The contents include original reviews, research papers and short communications. Coverage includes catalysis and reaction engineering, clean energy, functional material, nanotechnology and nanoscience, biomaterials and biotechnology, particle technology and multiphase processing, separation science and technology, sustainable technologies and green processing. The Editors-in-Chief are Academician Jingkang Wang from Tianjin University, Academician Qunji Xue from Ningbo Institute of Industrial Technology and Academician Jiongtian Liu from Zhengzhou University. The journal has been indexed by SCI, Ei, CA, ChemWeb, INSPEC, SCOPUS, Source Journals for Chinese Scientific and Technical Papers and Citations, CSCD, etc.

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