Metal Nanoparticle Modified Polysulfone Membranes for Use in Wastewater Treatment: A Critical Review


Membrane separation processes have been widely applied in the treatment of wastewater. Polysulphone (PSF) membranes are the most common membranes used in ultrafiltration of wastewater due to its mechanical robustness and structural and chemical stability. Unfortunately these membranes are mostly hydrophobic by nature and therefore highly susceptible to fouling. Many studies have been conducted to increase the hydrophilic properties of the polysul-phone/ polyethersulfone membrane surface, more recently metal nanoparticles have been added to the polymer matrix in order to reduce fouling potential and increase membrane performance. TiO2 nanoparticles have proven successful in mitigating fouling of organic matter onto PES. Embedded Ag nanoparticles have improved virus removal from wastewater due to the bactericidal properties of silver. Al2O3 and most recently ZrO2 nanoparticles reduced the fouling rate of polyethersulfone membranes in wastewater, while the latter also showed lower flux decline of the composite membrane. These metal nanoparticles all impart specific properties onto the membrane surface. Scanning electron microscopy, steady state fouling rate and contact angle measurements are membrane characterisation techniques discussed in this review that reveal specific changes to membrane properties brought about by metal nanoparticles. This paper reviews the most recent developments and shortcomings of metal nanocomposite polysulfone and polyethersulfone (PES) membranes and strives to identify specific focus areas to consider in future research.

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H. Richards, P. Baker and E. Iwuoha, "Metal Nanoparticle Modified Polysulfone Membranes for Use in Wastewater Treatment: A Critical Review," Journal of Surface Engineered Materials and Advanced Technology, Vol. 2 No. 3A, 2012, pp. 183-193. doi: 10.4236/jsemat.2012.223029.

Conflicts of Interest

The authors declare no conflicts of interest.


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