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Influence of active layer on separation potentials of nanofiltration membranes for inorganic ions.


Active layers of two fully aromatic and two semi-aromatic nanofiltration membranes were studied along with surface charge at different electrolyte composition and effective pore size to elucidate their influence on separation mechanisms for inorganic ions by steric, charge and dielectric exclusion. The membrane potential method used for pore size measurement is underlined as the most appropriate measurement technique for this application owing to its dependence on the diffusional potentials of inorganic ions. Crossflow rejection experiments with dilute feed composition indicate that both fully aromatic membranes achieved similar rejection despite the differences in surface charge, which suggests that rejection by these membranes is exclusively dependent on size exclusion and the contribution of charge exclusion is weak. Rejection experiments with higher ionic strength and different composition of the feed solution confirmed this hypothesis. On the other hand, increase in the ionic strength of feed solution when the charge exclusion effects are negligible due to charge screening strongly influenced ion rejection by semi-aromatic membranes. The experimental results confirmed that charge exclusion contributes significantly to the performance of semi-aromatic membranes in addition to size exclusion. The contribution of dielectric exclusion to overall ion rejection would be more significant for fully aromatic membranes.