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(647a) Efficient Modification of Outer Selective P84 Nanofiltration (NF) Hollow Fiber Membranes for Cadmium Removal

Gao, J., National University of Singapore
Chung, T. S., National University of Singapore
Sun, S. P., National University of Singapore
Zhu, W. P., National University of Singapore
Efficient Modification of Outer Selective P84 Nanofiltration (NF) Hollow Fiber Membranes for Cadmium Removal


Jie Gao, Shi-Peng Sun, Wen-Ping Zhu, Tai-Shung Chung*

Department of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering

National University of Singapore, Singapore 117576

*Corresponding author

Tel: +65-65166645; fax: +65-67791936; Email: chencts@nus.edu.sg




Cadmium is a common heavy metal present in industrial effluents from pesticide, smelting, dye manufacturing and electroplating industries. Like other heavy metals, cadmium is non-biodegradable. Accumulation of cadmium can occur in living systems and results in harmful environmental effects. Side effects, such as nausea, bone lesions, renal disturbances and cancer, may happen if cadmium is accumulated in human beings. Thus, the removal of cadmium from wastewater before discharge has important meanings to the human society. One method to remove those heavy metals is nanofiltration (NF) because it is able to offer good rejections to multi-valent heavy metal ions without much compromising water fluxes as compared to those of reverse osmosis (RO) membranes.

There is a growing interest in thin-film composite (TFC) NF hollow fiber membranes. The TFC layer can be formed on both inner and outer surfaces of hollow fiber membranes. The outer selective TFC hollow fiber membranes may have less mass transfer resistance and lower chances being blocked by foulants compared to the inner ones. Thus, the outer selective TFC fibers can be fabricated into smaller fiber dimensions with a higher package density in modules. Despite these advantages, the molecular design of an ideal TFC layer on the outer surface of hollow fiber membranes remains a challenge, making the mass production difficult. Since most TFC layers are made from interfacial polymerization of m-phenylenediamine (MPD) and trimesoyl chloride (TMC), removing excess solution after the MPD coating is the major obstacle in the process. Vacuum assist interfacial polymerization or wipe drying are required to make a defect free polyamide layer. Another obstacle is that a large amount of alkane solvents has to be used during interfacial polymerization, which brings extra costs and environmental issues. Eliminating alkane solvents is critical to lower manufacture costs and yield a green production process.

In this study, green methods to prepare the outer selective TFC hollow fiber membranes were explored by firstly modifying the membrane substrate with polyethyleneimine (PEI) and then by water soluble small molecules such as glutaraldehyde (GA) and epichlorohydrin (ECH). Using P84 polyimide as the substrate, not only do these modifications decrease substrateâ??s pore size, but also vary surface charge by making the membranes less positively charged. As a result, the resultant membranes have higher rejections against salts such as Na2SO4, NaCl and MgSO4. The PEI and then GA modified membrane has the best separation performance with a NaCl rejection over 90 % and a pure water permeability of 1.74 ± 0.01 Lmâ??2barâ??1hâ??1. It also shows an impressive rejection of 94 % for CdCl2 removal during long-term stability tests. The CdCl2 rejection remains higher than 90% when testing it from 5 to 60 °C. This study may provide useful insights for green manufacturing of next-generation NF hollow fiber membranes.


The authors would like to thank Chinese Gansu province for the research project entitled â??Membrane development to removal heavy metalsâ? with the grant number of R-279-000-360-597 and GSK-EDB Trust Fund for the project entitled â??New membrane development to facilitate solvent recovery and pharmaceutical separation in pharmaceutical synthesesâ? with the grant number of R-706-000-019-592. The authors also acknowledge Mr. Z.L. Cheng, Dr. X. Li, Ms, Y. Zhang, Dr. Z.Z. Zhou and Dr. Y.K. Ong for all their helps and suggestions on the experimental work. Thanks are also due to Mr. K.P. Ng for his help on the NF set-up.