Abstract

A major problem with polymeric membranes is low hydrophilicity and consequently a tendency to fouling. Preparing composite membranes is one way to improve the properties and performance of the neat membrane. In the present study, the effects of coagulation-bath temperature (CBT) and the hydrophilic nanoclay concentration of montmorillonite (MMT) on the morphology and performance of asymmetric cellulose acetate butyrate (CAB) membranes were investigated. The membranes were prepared via phase inversion induced by immersion precipitation in a water-coagulation bath. The morphology of the membranes prepared was studied by scanning electron microscopy (SEM). The permeation performance of the membranes prepared was studied by experiments using pure water and bovine serum albumin (BSA) solutions as feeds. The results showed that the membrane thickness and pure water flux (PWF) were increased by adding up to 2 wt.% MMT nanoclay to the casting solution. These two parameters decreased with further addition of MMT, however. In addition, the results obtained in the case of filtration of BSA solution indicated that the addition of MMT in the casting solution increased permeate flux and reduced BSA rejection slightly. Furthermore, increasing the MMT nanoclay concentration in the casting solution increased pure water flux recovery and consequently decreased the fouling. Decreasing the CBT in the presence of MMT during membrane preparation resulted in the formation of a more porous structure and consequently increased the flux and simultaneously decreased the BSA rejection.

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