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Development of high performance nanofibrous composite membranes by

optimizing polydimethylsiloxane architectures for phenol transport

Meng-Yi Jin, Yuan Liao, Choon-Hong Tan and Rong Wang

Journal of Membrane Science, 2018, 549, 638–648.

Abstract: Phenol removal and recovery from wastewaters are highly demanded in industries due to its high toxicity and industrial importance. It can transport through the silicon-based rubber polydimethylsiloxane (PDMS) via the solution-diffusion mechanism. To improve the phenol removal efficiency in extractive processes, dense PDMS membranes with different macromolecular structures have been developed and evaluated in this work. The condensation-cured PDMS membranes (PA) with network architecture exhibited higher phenol partition coefficients (K) than the hydrosilylation-cured PDMS membranes with linear and branch architectures. This was attributed to the four-armed quaternary-siloxy linkages formed in the three-dimensional network structure, increasing the free volume for phenol passage and hydrogen bonding between phenol and PDMS matrix. The K of PA was further enhanced by optimizing the PDMS precursor chain length and cross-linker amount, and the corresponding membrane mechanical properties and phenol overall mass transfer coefficients (k0) were examined. The optimal PA formulation was utilized to fabricate a highly effective nanofibrous composite membrane via spray coating. The resultant composite membrane exhibited a k0 of 18.3 ± 1.3 × 10−7 m/s in an aqueous-aqueous extractive process, significantly outperforming the commercial counterpart with 45% increment. This is the first demonstration of the importance of PDMS macromolecular structures on phenol extraction. The newly-developed condensation-cured PDMS could contribute to the fabrication of highly effective composite membranes for various extractive processes.

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