(7b) Developing Advanced Antifouling Membranes Using Complementary Experimental and Theoretical Methods
Membrane fouling is very complex and affected by concentration polarization, the hydrophobicity, charge and polarity of the foulants and the properties of the membrane surface. Designing polymer surfaces that are non-fouling has been a central issue in membrane research. Developing advanced antifouling membranes requires both fundamental understanding of the fouling mechanisms as well as implementing novel approaches to membrane processes. Here both modeling and experimental techniques are used to understand and develop advanced anti-fouling membranes.
Surface modification with zwitterionic materials has been found to be effective in resisting protein attachment. Atomistic molecular dynamics simulations are used to understand charge and charge separation distance on the hydration of zwitterionic materials and their role in resisting fouling. In addition, membrane surface modification of hydrophilic polymers with superparamagnetic nanoparticles attached at the polymer chain ends has been implemented to develop advanced antifouling membranes. Under an appropriate external magnetic field, these functionalized nanoparticles can act as localized nanoheaters or as micro-mixers, both of which are effective for reducing surface fouling. Current progress on these three areas will be discussed.