Heterogeneous Functionalization of Polyethersulfone: A New Approach for pH-Responsive Microfiltration Membranes with Enhanced Antifouling Properties

Lwazi Ndlwana, Keneiloe Sikhwivhilu, Richard Moutloali, Jane Catherine Ngila

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

11 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

In this work, 2,2’-azo-bis-butyronitrile (AIBN) was exploited as an initiator for the successful bulk heterogeneous functionalization of polyethersulfone (PES) using polymethacrylic acid (PMAA), for the first time. To this end, pH-responsive and exceptionally low fouling membranes of extremely low grafting degrees with low adhesion and high rejection of protein were fabricated. An added advantage of this method is the accomplishment of graft polymerization of methacrylic acid (MAA) in water in the absence of toxic solvents, scavengers or catalysts. Changes to surface functional groups of the PES powder were determined using attenuated total reflectance Fourier transform infrared (ATR-FTIR) spectroscopy and thereafter validated with X-ray photoelectron spectroscopy (XPS). The phase inversion technique was used to fabricate microfiltration membranes (MFs), which were found to possess up to 40% improved hydrophilicity relative to pristine PES membranes. Protein adsorption was reduced by more than 80% while its rejection and the pure water permeate flux recovery ratio (FR) were 97%, and 86%, respectively. Furthermore, the membrane maintained 90% FR over 10 cycles. The newly fabricated membranes possess enhanced response to pH stimulus.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)178-187
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of Membrane Science and Research
Volume6
Issue number2
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2020

Keywords

  • BSA rejection
  • Bulk modification
  • Low-fouling
  • PES membranes
  • Polymer synthesis
  • Smart polymers

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Materials Science (miscellaneous)
  • Surfaces, Coatings and Films
  • Filtration and Separation

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