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Tuning nanofiltration membrane performance: OH–MoS2 nanosheet engineering and divalent cation influence on fouling and organic removal
journal contributionposted on 2023-11-01, 04:58 authored by Deepak MallyaDeepak Mallya, G Yang, Weiwei LeiWeiwei Lei, S Muthukumaran, Bas BaskaranBas Baskaran
Natural organic matter (NOM) present in surface water causes severe organic fouling of nanofiltration (NF) membranes employed for the production of potable water. Calcium (Ca2+) and magnesium (Mg2+) are alkaline earth metals present in natural surface water and severely exacerbate organic fouling owing to their ability to cause charge neutralization, complexation, and bridging of NOM and the membrane surface. Hence, it is of practical significance to engineer membranes with properties suitable for addressing organic fouling in the presence of these cations. This study employed OH-functionalized molybdenum disulphide (OH–MoS2) nanosheets as nanofillers via the interfacial polymerization reaction to engineer NF membranes for enhanced removal of NOM and fouling mitigation performance. At an optimized concentration of 0.010 wt.% of OH–MoS2 nanosheet, the membrane was endowed with higher hydrophilicity, negative charge and rougher membrane morphology which enhanced the pure water permeance by 46.33% from 11.2 to 16.39 L m−2 h−1 bar−1 while bridging the trade-off between permeance and salt selectivity. The fouling performance was evaluated using humic acid (HA) and sodium alginate (SA), which represent the hydrophobic and hydrophilic components of NOM in the presence of 0, 0.5, and 1 mM Ca2+ and Mg2+, respectively, and the performance was benchmarked with control and commercial membranes. The modified membrane exhibited normalized fluxes of 95.09% and 93.26% for HA and SA, respectively, at the end of the 6 h filtration experiments, compared to the control membrane at 89.71% and 74.25%, respectively. This study also revealed that Ca2+ has a more detrimental effect than Mg2+ on organic fouling and NOM removal. The engineered membrane outperformed the commercial and the pristine membranes during fouling tests in the presence of 1 mM Ca2+ and Mg2+ in the feed solution. In summary, this study has shown that incorporating OH–MoS2 nanosheets into membranes is a promising strategy for producing potable water from alternative water sources with high salt and NOM contents.