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Investigation of hybrid ion-exchange membranes reinforced with non-woven metal meshes for electro-dialysis applications
journal contributionposted on 2015-01-01, 00:00 authored by Francois-Marie Jacques Allioux, Li He, Fenghua SheFenghua She, Peter HodgsonPeter Hodgson, Lingxue KongLingxue Kong, Ludovic DumeeLudovic Dumee
Salt and solvent permeations across ion-exchange membranes used in electro-dialysis are directly related to the membrane material structure and chemistry. Although primarily used for aqueous effluents desalination, electro-dialysis was recently shown to be a promising technology for industrial wastewater and co-solvent mixtures purification. The harsh working conditions imposed by these liquid effluents, including high suspended solids, require the development of more chemically and mechanically resistant membranes. In this study, commercial porous stainless steel media filters (240. μm thick) were used as a backbone to prepare hybrid ion-exchange membranes by casting ion-exchange materials within the porous metal structure. The surface of the metal reinforcements was modified by plasma treatment prior to sol-gel silane grafting to improve the interface between the metal and the ion-exchange resins. The morphology of novel hybrid materials and the interface between the metal fibers and the ion-exchange material have been characterized using techniques such as scanning electron microscopy and FTIR mapping. The thickness of the silane coating was found to lie between 1 and 2. μm while water contact angle tests performed on membrane surfaces and corrosion test behaviors revealed the formation of a thin passivating oxide layer on the material surfaces providing anchoring for the silane grafting and adequate surface energy for the proper incorporation of the ion-exchange material. The hybrid membranes desalination performance were then tested in a bench top electro-dialysis cell over a range of flow rate, current densities and salt concentration conditions to evaluate the ability of the novel hybrid materials to desalinate model streams. The performance of the hybrid membranes were benchmarked and critically compared against commercially available membranes (Selemion™). Although the salt transfer kinetics across the hybrid ion-exchange composite membranes were shown to be comparable to that of the commercial membranes, the low porosity of the stainless steel reinforcements, around 60%, was shown to impede absolute salt permeations. The hybrid ion-exchange membranes were however found to be competitive at low current density and low flow velocity desalination conditions.