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Predominant Effect of Material Surface Hydrophobicity on Gypsum Scale Formation

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journal contribution
posted on 16.10.2020 by Xiaochuan Huang, Chen Li, Kuichang Zuo, Qilin Li
Scale formation is an important challenge in water and wastewater treatment systems. However, due to the complex nature of membrane surfaces, the effects of specific membrane surface characteristics on scale formation are poorly understood. In this study, the independent effect of surface hydrophobicity on gypsum (CaSO4·2H2O) scale formation via surface-induced nucleation and bulk homogeneous nucleation was investigated using quartz crystal microbalance with dissipation (QCM-D) on self-assembled monolayers (SAMs) terminated with −OH, −CH3, and −CF3 functional groups. Results show that higher surface hydrophobicity enhances both surface-induced nucleation of gypsum and attachment of gypsum crystals formed from homogeneous nucleation in the bulk solution. The enhanced surface-induced nucleation is attributed to the lower nucleation energy barrier on a hydrophobic surface, while the increased gypsum crystal attachment results from the favorable hydrophobic interactions between gypsum and more hydrophobic surfaces. Contrary to previous findings, the role of Ca2+ adsorption in surface-induced nucleation was found to be relatively small and similar on the different SAMs. Therefore, increasing material hydrophilicity is a potential approach to reduce gypsum scaling.