Please use this identifier to cite or link to this item: https://hdl.handle.net/10356/138126
Title: Development of thin-film composite membrane for forward osmosis process
Authors: Ng, Daniel Yee Fan
Keywords: Engineering::Environmental engineering::Water treatment
Issue Date: 2019
Publisher: Nanyang Technological University
Source: Ng, D. Y. F. (2019). Development of thin-film composite membrane for forward osmosis process. Doctoral thesis, Nanyang Technological University, Singapore.
Abstract: Forward osmosis (FO) is a membrane process that occurs when solutions of different osmotic pressures are separated by a membrane which is selectively permeable to water. It is a process that drives water permeation across the membrane spontaneously even in the absence of hydraulic pressure difference across the membrane. FO has attracted lots of attention over the last decade and has been explored as a potential alternative to desalination, wastewater treatment and liquid food processing. Significant progress has been made in the development of high-performance FO membranes with high water flux and low reverse solute flux, particularly cellulosic membranes, thin-film composite (TFC) membranes and polyelectrolyte-based membranes. Yet, a few major challenges continue to hamper the widespread implementation of the process in the industry, mainly internal concentration polarization, reverse solute diffusion, membrane fouling, mechanical durability and draw solution regeneration. Most of these challenges are associated with membrane characteristics, which has significantly limited the efficiency of the FO process. To address these challenges, firstly, hollow fiber ultrafiltration membranes were fabricated from polyethersulfone (PES) via a non-solvent induced phase separation (NIPS) process and were used as substrates to prepare inner-selective TFC hollow fiber membranes via an interfacial polymerization (IP) process. The effect of the hollow fiber substrate fabrication conditions on the properties of the substrate and TFC membranes were briefly investigated. The FO performance of the TFC membranes were characterized by using 0.5 M NaCl and DI water as the draw and feed solutions. when the membrane was operated in the active layer-facing-feed solution (AL-FS) and active layer-facing-draw solution (AL-DS) configurations, water flux as high as 41.2 L/m2/h and 74.9 L/m2/h were achieved, while specific reverse solute flux were 0.11 g/L and 0.10 g/L, respectively. Subsequently, a novel double-skinned hollow fiber TFC FO membrane has been successfully fabricated. The FO membrane consisted of a one-step dual-layer substrate and a thin inner selective layer formed via the IP process. The substrate comprises a dense ultrafiltration (UF) outer layer and a relatively porous UF inner layer, both of which were constructed from PES by using a dual-layer co-extrusion technique. The fouling resistance of the double-skinned hollow fiber membrane was evaluated under various testing conditions to verify the viability of double-skinned hollow fiber membranes as a solution to membrane fouling in the FO process. Compared to the commercial and reported double-skinned FO membranes, the FO membrane developed in this thesis exhibited a higher permeate flux with humic acid solution as a feed solution. Furthermore, the double-skinned FO membrane was applied in concentrating activated sludge using 0.5 M NaCl as a draw solution. A permeate flux at 5.4 L/m2/h was achieved after 5-hour operation, which was higher than, or comparable to, those of the reported FO membranes. Membrane autopsies and foulant analysis suggested that the dense UF skin layer helped to reject larger-sized organic foulants (> 300 Da), which shed light on the importance of fabrication features and promising application of the double-skinned hollow fiber TFC FO membrane in sludge concentration. On the other hand, a series of characterization revealed that TFC hollow fiber membranes may experience significant compaction during the FO process despite the lack of applied pressure. Three TFC hollow fiber membranes were fabricated with varied water permeability to study the effect of the osmotic pressure on the TFC membranes. The TFC membranes were continuously tested in FO experiments for 24 h using DI water as feed and varied concentration of NaCl solutions as draw solutions, and their performances were evaluated again using fresh feed solutions. At the end of the FO experiments, all TFC membranes experienced water and salt flux decline to different extents. Visible changes in the cross-sectional morphology and surface topography of the TFC membranes were observed. These observations suggested that the occurrence of membrane compaction is strongly associated with the characteristics of the hollow fiber substrates that were used to prepare the TFC membranes and may be attributed to “negative pressure” build-up within the support layer of the TFC membranes.
URI: https://hdl.handle.net/10356/138126
DOI: 10.32657/10356/138126
Rights: This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License (CC BY-NC 4.0).
Fulltext Permission: open
Fulltext Availability: With Fulltext
Appears in Collections:IGS Theses

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