Stimuli responsive membranes, which are able to respond to environmental stimuli, are attracting ever-increasing interests. In this study, we blended exfoliated graphite (EG) into the polyaniline (PANI) and developed PANI/EG composite membranes. The properties of the new generated membranes, especially the stimuli response properties (e.g., electrical tuneability, deformation), were studied. The fouling removal ability of the membrane under applied electrical potential was also investigated by using bovine serum albumin (BSA) as a model foulant. A flat membrane with defect-free surface and good adhesion to the support layer was formed by non-solvent induced phase separation method. The electrical conductivity of the formed PANI/EG composite membrane was (5.10 ± 0.27) ×10−4 S cm−1. The dynamic droplet penetration rate through the membranes showed an increase under applied electrical potential, which gives a preliminary quantitative indication of the electrical tuneability of the membranes. The membrane deformation appeared at a fast response under applied potential and recovered to its original position immediately when removing the applied potential. The application of electrical potential led to the removal of BSA foulant from the membrane surface as indicated by the increase in permeance of the fouled membrane on cleaning with 46.2% flux recovery ratio and increased BSA concentration in the wash solution. The electrically conductive PANI/EG composite membranes are able to respond to electrical stimuli, enabling a new range of potential applications including externally tuneability and in situ removal and control of fouling.
- Electrically tuneable
- Exfoliated graphite
- Stimuli-responsive membranes
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Chemical Engineering (miscellaneous)
- Process Chemistry and Technology
- Filtration and Separation