Polysulfone membranes via thermally induced phase separation
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Polysulfone (PSF) membranes have gained great attention in the fields of ultrafiltration, microfiltration, and thin film composite membranes for nanofiltration or reverse osmosis. For the first time, it is proposed to fabricate PSF membranes via thermally induced phase separation (TIPS) process using diphenyl sulfone (DPSO2) and polyethylene glycol (PEG) as mixed diluent. DPSO2 is chosen as a crystallizable diluent, while PEG is considered in terms of molecular weight (M w) and dosage. We systematically investigate the interactions between PSF, DPSO2 and PEG based on the simulation calculations and solubility parameter theory. It is inferred that DPSO2 has an excellent compatibility with PSF, and the addition of PEG results in the ternary system thermodynamically less stable and then facilitates its liquid-liquid (L-L) phase separation. SEM images indicate that cellular-like pores are obvious throughout the membrane when the PEG content in the mixed diluent is 25 wt%−35 wt%. We can facilely manipulate the pore size, water flux and mechanical properties of PSF membranes with the dosage of PEG-200, the M w of PEG or the cooling rate. The successful application of TIPS can provide a new approach for structure manipulation and performance enhancement of PSF membranes.
KeywordsPolysulfone membrane Pore structure Diphenyl sulfone Polyethylene glycol Thermally induced phase separation
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