A facile route to the preparation of antibacterial polysulfone-sulfonated polyethersulfone ultrafiltration membranes using a cationic surfactant cetyltrimethylammonium bromide
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Cetyltrimethylammonium bromide (CTAB), a cationic surfactant, is known to have strong bactericidal potential. In this study, we report a facile approach for preparing CTAB-containing polysulfone-sulfonated polyethersulfone (PSF-SPES) based ultrafiltration membranes with antibacterial properties. The CTAB was added in gelation medium at three different concentrations and made an electrostatic interaction with SPES at the polymer/bath interface during phase inversion. The successful incorporation of the CTAB in the membrane structure was confirmed by attenuated total reflectance Fourier transform infrared spectroscopy and X-ray photoelectron spectroscopy. The CTAB-containing membranes had higher contact angle, lower pure water permeability (PWP) and molecular weight cut-off than the pristine membrane. The membranes prepared at critical and above critical micelle concentration (CMC) of the CTAB showed excellent antibacterial activity on both Gram-negative (Escherichia coli) and Gram-positive (Staphylococcus aureus) bacteria. On the other hand, the PWP of the membrane decreased from 93 +/- 1.6 to 39.3 +/- 3.2 L/m(2) h bar upon increasing the CTAB concentration from 10(-3) M (=CMC) to 10(-2) M, consequently, CMC was chosen as the optimal concentration. The membrane prepared at the CMC displayed almost 100% flux recoveries after dynamic bacteria filtration followed by simple rinsing with PBS solution. Leaching experiments continued up to 30 days demonstrated that 96% of the CTAB remained in this membrane. Furthermore, at the end of 1 month of storage in 1 M NaCl solution, no change was observed in the antibacterial activity of this membrane compared to fresh membrane. These findings emphasize the potential of the facile approach proposed in this study to develop antibacterial ultrafiltration membranes in a single step.