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Wetting, Liquid Entry Pressure, Membrane Distillation, Hydrophobicity, Gas Permeability


Membrane distillation (MD) is a rapidly emerging water treatment technology used to combat the global water crisis. Membrane pore wetting is a primary barrier to widespread industrial use of MD. The primary causes of membrane wetting are membrane fouling and an exceedance of liquid entry pressure. The development of different types of polymer membranes and the use of pretreatment have led to significant movement towards the prevention of wetting in MD. We sought to take a new approach to combat membrane wetting that involves coating these membranes with hydrophilic chemical compounds, which consequently would decrease their air permeability. Pulling data from our HVAC group’s latest papers, we used two different compounds for our coats: Graphene Oxide (GO) and Pebax 1657. After heating and mixing, these compounds were spray coated onto polypropylene membranes at 10 mL, 20mL, and 30 mL worth of solution. 7 membranes with area 38mm x 44 mm were created, including one uncoated for control, and placed into a porometer to measure the gas permeability. We discovered that 30 mL of Pebax and GO made an equal, strong difference in combating wettability. In the future, these membranes can be used in membrane distillation to measure the performance of their coats’ ability to combat wetting. These experiments serve as a big step in the move toward the industrialization of membrane distillation with the goal of overcoming the freshwater shortages of the world.