Cellulose nanocrystal-based thin film nanocomposite membranes

The research article 'Synthesis and characterization of novel cellulose nanocrystals-based thin film nanocomposite membranes for reverse osmosis applications' has been published in Elsevier journal Desalination.

Abstract

A novel TFN membrane was fabricated by embedding Cellulose Nanocrystals (CNCs) into the polyamide active layer. Membranes were synthesized by in-situ interfacial polymerization of m-phenylenediamine (MPD) and trimesoyl chloride (TMC) containing different amounts of CNCs. Successful incorporation of CNCs into the polyamide layer was confirmed by XRD analyses. Surface morphology of the membranes was characterized by SEM and AFM. Water contact angle measurements showed improved hydrophilicity of the TFN membranes. Desalination experiments with synthetic brackish water at 20 bar(g) revealed doubling of the water flux from 30 to 63 ± 10 L/m2·h, without significantly compromising the salt rejection (97.8%) for 0.1% (w/v) CNCs loading. In the fouling/filtration experiments with 300 ppm of Bovine Serum Albumin (BSA) in the feed solution, the TFN membrane had 11% smaller water flux reduction compared to the control TFC membrane. The promising performance of the CNCs-based TFN membranes and the fact that CNCs are inexpensive and abundant nanoparticles indicates their potential for a large-scale use in water desalination. Moreover, since CNCs are safe and environmentally friendly nanoparticles their possible leaching out during membrane operation would not impose health and environmental concerns.

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