From microfiltration to reverse osmosis: Relevance of membrane surface charge
The invention of thin-film composite (TFC) polymer membranes in the 1960s has initiated the success of membrane technology for desalination, water treatment, and separation processes. Membrane performance is commonly evaluated by water flux and solute retention. Prior to the application of any new class of TFC polymer membranes, the physical characterization of membrane porosity and surface properties is key. Membrane surface charge is one of the physico-chemical parameters, which drives solute rejection and determines the membrane's fouling propensity. The surface zeta potential is commonly employed to determine the membrane charge. Less attention has yet been paid on its capability to directly assess the solute and foulant interactions with membrane surfaces.
Join our journey of zeta potential analyses, which starts at microfiltration and ultrafiltration membranes for virus retention, pauses at the fouling behaviour of TFC polymer membranes for nanofiltration, and finally approaches reverse osmosis membranes for seawater desalination.
Christine Körner is the international product manager for solid surface charge instrumentation at the Anton Paar headquarters in Austria. She earned a PhD in Physical Chemistry from Graz University of Technology, Austria, as well as a degree in Business Administration before joining Anton Paar in 2011 as a product specialist for material characterization.