A Facile and Scalable Fabrication Procedure for Thin-Film Composite Membranes: Integration of Phase Inversion and Interfacial Polymerization

Yanling Liu, Junyong Zhu, Junfeng Zheng, Xiaoqi Gao, Jing Wang, Xiaomao Wang, Yuefeng F. Xie, Xia Huang, Bart Van Der Bruggen

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


Conventional dense thin-film composite (TFC) membranes evince a universally low water permeability, the increase of which typically relies on introducing additional transport channels based on intricate steps within a membrane preparation process. In this study, we reported a novel and simplified procedure for the fabrication of high-performance TFC membranes. Specifically, the dissolution of aqueous monomers in the casting solution was utilized for the following interfacial polymerization (IP). Since the monomers diffused to the water bath during phase inversion, the control of precipitation time enabled an effective regulation of the monomer concentration in the formed polymeric substrates, where the IP reaction was initiated by the addition of the organic phase. The entire and uniform embedment of aqueous monomers inside the substrates contributed to the formation of ultrathin and smooth selective layers. An excellent separation performance (i.e., water permeability: 34.7 L m-2 h-1 bar-1 Na2SO4 rejection: ∼96%) could be attained using two types of aqueous monomers (i.e., piperazine and β-cyclodextrin), demonstrating the effectiveness and universality of this method. Compared to the conventional immersion-based process, this novel procedure shows distinct advantages in reducing monomer usage, shortening the production cycle, and achieving a more superior membrane performance, which is highly promising for large-scale membrane manufacture.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1946-1954
Number of pages9
JournalEnvironmental Science and Technology
Issue number3
StatePublished - Feb 4 2020


All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Chemistry(all)
  • Environmental Chemistry

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