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A Self-Standing, Support-Free Membrane for Forward Osmosis with No Internal Concentration Polarization

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journal contribution
posted on 30.03.2018, 00:00 by Meng Li, Vasiliki Karanikola, Xuan Zhang, Lianjun Wang, Menachem Elimelech
Conventional asymmetric or thin-film composite forward osmosis (FO) membranes suffer from severe internal concentration polarization, which significantly hinders process performance and practical applications. Here we report the synthesis of the COOH-derived polyoxadiazole copolymer for the fabrication of a self-standing selective thin film without a support layer. The thickness of the membrane was controlled at merely a few micrometers to achieve a high rate of rejection of the Na2SO4 draw solution, while maintaining acceptable water permeability. Because of the symmetric architecture, the membrane exhibited excellent and identical FO performance at both of its sides. The structural parameter of the fabricated membranes was zero because of the absence of internal concentration polarization in the symmetric FO membranes. Our results highlight the potential of support-free membranes for the further development of FO technology.