Enhanced Antifouling Feed Spacer Made from a Carbon Nanotube- Polypropylene Nanocomposite

H Kitano and K Takeuchi and J Ortiz-Medina and R Cruz-Silva and A Morelos-Gomez and M Fujii and M Obata and A Yamanaka and S Tejima and M Fujishige and N Akuzawa and A Yamaguchi and M Endo, ACS OMEGA, 4, 15496-15503 (2019).

DOI: 10.1021/acsomega.9b01757

Spacers are widely used in membrane technologies to reduce fouling and concentration polarization. Fouling can start from the spacer surface and grow, thereby reducing flux, selectivity, and operation lifetime. Fluorescein isothiocyanate labeled bovine serum albumin was used for fouling studies and observed during cross-flow filtration operation for up to 144 h. Here, we mixed carbon nanotubes (CNTs) and polypropylene (PP) to make a spacer with better antifouling than plain PP spacers. The fouling process was observed by scanning electron microscopy and monitored in situ by fluorescence microscopy. Molecular dynamics simulations show that bovine serum albumin has a lower interaction energy with the nanocomposite CNTs/PP spacer than with the plain PP. The findings are relevant for the development of spacers to improve the operation lifetime of membranes in filtration technologies.

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