Treatment of Oil in Water Emulsions by Ceramic-Supported Polymeric Membranes

by Robert P. Castro, Univ of California, Los Angeles, United States,
Yoram Cohen, Univ of California, Los Angeles, United States,
Harold G. Monbouquette, Univ of California, Los Angeles, United States,

Abstract: A novel membrane was developed by growing polymer chains from the surface of a porous ceramic support, resulting in a composite membrane which combines the mechanical properties of the inorganic membrane with the selective interactions of the polymer. The configuration of the grafted polymer brush layer is determined by solvent - polymer interactions, with a hydrophilic polymer being stretched away from the surface by aqueous solutions and collapsed against the surface by organic solvents. This behavior of the grafted chains provides Ceramic-Supported Polymeric (CSP) membranes with unique properties for certain water treatment applications. One application envisioned for these CSP membranes, in which the selectivity is influenced by interactions between the solvent and the grafted polymer, is the cross-flow filtration of an oil-in-water emulsion. In this case, a hydrophilic grafted polyvinylpyrrolidone (PVP) brush layer expanded into the pore volume due to the affinity of the polymer for water. These extended grafted chains preferentially allow the passage of water over oil, producing a permeate stream with a lower total organic carbon content compared to an unmodified membrane. Another advantage of the CSP membrane is in reducing permeate flux decline believed to be caused by the adsorption of oil onto the membrane surface. For the PVP-modified CSP membrane, the grafted polymer alters the membrane surface character from hydrophobic to hydrophilic, reducing the tendency for oil adsorption. This phenomenon was demonstrated by comparison of permeate flow rate behavior for both unmodified and graft polymerized (CSP) membranes.

Subject Headings: Membranes | Polymer | Water treatment | Surface properties | Ceramics | Solvents | Mixtures

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