(531c) Application of Evapoporometry to Characterizing the Pore-Size Distribution of Hollow Fiber Membranes | AIChE

(531c) Application of Evapoporometry to Characterizing the Pore-Size Distribution of Hollow Fiber Membranes


Krantz, W. B. - Presenter, University of Colorado
Akhondi, E., Nanyang Technological University

Application of Evapoporometry to Characterizing the
Pore-Size Distribution of Hollow Fiber Membranes

Ebrahim Akhondia,
Filicia Wicaksanaa,b, William B. Krantza,c

aSingapore Membrane Technology Center, Nanyang Technological University, Singapore

bDept. of Chemical and
Materials Engineering, University of Auckland, New Zealand

cDept. of Chemical and Biological Engineering,
University of Colorado, USA

(EP) is a novel means for characterizing the pore-size distribution (PSD) in
membranes. It is based on the principle that the vapor pressure is affected by
the curvature of a volatile liquid contained in a porous material that is
described by the Kelvin equation.  If a
wetting liquid is used to completely fill the pores, the vapor pressure will be
depressed, whereas if a non-wetting liquid is used, the vapor pressure will be
enhanced.  If the membrane is
pre-saturated with a wetting volatile liquid, the evaporation rate will
monotonically decrease as a function of time because the liquid will evaporate
progressively from the largest to the smallest pores. This is because the gas
phase immediately adjacent to the membrane surface will be supersaturated in
the vapor of the volatile liquid with respect to any pores having a diameter
smaller than that of the pores that are draining.

involves first saturating the membrane with a volatile liquid that is not a
solvent or swelling agent for the membrane material. The sample is then placed
in a specially designed test cell on the pan of a microbalance that permits
measuring the mass as a function of time. The slope of the mass versus time
curve provides the evaporation rate, which can then be related to the vapor
pressure at the interface between the liquid in the porous material and the
ambient gas phase.  The vapor pressure in
turn can be related to the pore diameter via the Kelvin equation. The PSD then
is then expressed as the mass fraction of pores as a function of the pore
diameter; that is, EP gives a mass-based PSD and mass-based average pore diameter.
In contrast to other techniques for determining the PSD, EP does not require
assuming a pore geometry.

prior studies EP was applied to characterizing the PSD of flat sheet membranes
using only isopropyl alcohol (IPA) as the volatile wetting liquid. In this
presentation the adaptation of EP to characterizing the PSD of polyvinylidene
fluoride (PVDF) and polyacrylonitrile (PAN) hollow fiber ultrafiltration (UF) membranes
using both IPA and water as the volatile wetting liquids will be discussed. The
EP test cell and procedure had to be modified to properly seal the hollow
fibers at the base of the test cell and to accommodate the free convection mass
transfer associated with using water whose vapor, in contrast to IPA, is less
dense than air.

characterization of the PSD is compared to that determined by liquid
displacement porometry (LDP). This comparison indicates that the high pressures
used in the LDP characterization (as high as 3.5 MPa) caused compaction of the UF
membranes that resulted in the shift of the PSD to smaller pores. EP offers an
attractive alternative to LDP since it does not require using any transmembrane
pressure or specialized expensive equipment.


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