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Engineering  |  FURI
FURI Spring 2020
Sustainability

Pretreatment membranes to prolong the lifetime of reverse osmosis membrane

Pretreatment membranes can be utilized to prolong the lifetime of reverse osmosis membranes and to remove biological and inorganic foulants from water feedstocks. A promising strategy to produce pretreatment membranes is through electrospinning, which creates nanoscale, nonwoven fibrous mats of polymeric materials with a very high surface area to volume ratio. The characteristics of the polymer mat can be tailored by polymer selection as well as post-processing functionalization strategies. This work will highlight a recent strategy to i) tune pretreatment membrane mechanical strength using post-electrospinning crosslinking reactions, and ii) introduce functional groups that enable the selective removal of heavy metal atoms. Specifically, poly(vinyl alcohol) is electrospun into nonwoven mats, crosslinked using a poly(ethylene glycol) diacid, and then functionalized with carboxylic acids by ring opening succinic anhydride. The mechanical properties, membrane morphology water flux, and metal-removal efficiency will be highlighted.

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