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Layer-by-layer surface modification of polyethersulfone membranes using polyelectrolytes and AgCl/TiO2 xerogels
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In this study, the layer-by-layer (LbL) assembly method was employed to modify a commercial polyethersulfone (PES) membrane by successive adsorption of chitosan and alginate as cationic and anionic polyelectrolytes. To enhance anti-biofouling property, pure, PEG mixed and PEGylated AgCl/TiO2 xerogels were incorporated solely in the top layer of the LbL-modified membranes. Organic and biological foulings were addressed separately using alginate and Escherichia coli bacteria suspensions as the organic and biological model foulants, respectively. LbL-modifying the commercial PES membrane successively with chitosan and alginate polyelectrolyte multilayers prevented organic fouling extensively. In addition, we found that AgCl/TiO2-incorporated membranes show higher water permeability and improved resistance to biological fouling as compared to the PES membrane. Silver amounts in consecutively collected permeate samples were quantified by ICP-MS analysis to assess the stability of AgCl/TiO2-incorporated layers. Silver loss per filtration cycle followed an increasing trend initially, up to a filtration volume totaling 3000L/m2, leading to 4.2% reduction in the immobilized silver amount. After that, silver loss per filtration cycle stabilized at ~7.44μg/L, which extrapolates to ~265 days time-span for the remaining silver to be released at a filtration rate of ~1000L/m2 h. Antibacterial activity tests showed that AgCl/TiO2-incorporated layers do not permit bacterial growth on the membrane surface.