Comparing the antifouling effects of activated carbon and TiO2 in ultrafiltration membrane development

Qianyu Liu, Shaobin Huang*, Yongqing Zhang, Shuaifei Zhao

*Corresponding author for this work

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

    29 Citations (Scopus)


    We use activated carbon (AC) and titanium oxide (TiO2) nanomaterials as the additives to prepare four polyvinylidene fluoride (PVDF) based ultrafiltration membranes by nonsolvent induced phase separation. The surface properties (pore size, porosity, hydrophilicity and roughness) of the membranes are characterized by scanning electron microscopy, water contact angle measurement, and atomic force microscopy. The chemical properties of the membranes are evaluated by Fourier transform infrared spectroscopy with attenuated total reflection and X-ray diffraction. All these additives can improve the surface hydrophilicity and water permeation flux of the membrane. However, the addition of TiO2 nanoparticles (20–30 nm) results in larger surface porosities and pore sizes, which causes more severe membrane fouling compared with the neat PVDF membrane. The PVDF-AC membrane exhibits excellent fouling resistance. Particularly, the irreversible fouling after blending AC into PVDF reduces dramatically from 40% to 25%. The antifouling performance of the PVDF-AC membrane may result from the improved hydrophilicity and the favorable surface and structure properties of the membrane. To the best of our knowledge, this is the first demonstration of the antifouling function of AC in membrane preparation. This study suggests that AC could be a new type of nanomaterial for developing antifouling membranes.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)109-118
    Number of pages10
    JournalJournal of Colloid and Interface Science
    Publication statusPublished - 1 Apr 2018


    • activated carbon
    • antifouling
    • membrane fouling
    • polyvinylidene fluoride membrane
    • water treatment

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