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Zwitterionic Hydrogel-Impregnated Membranes with Polyamide Skin Achieving Superior Water/Salt Separation Properties

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journal contribution
posted on 16.10.2020, 19:15 by Thien Tran, Shiwei Pan, Xiaoyi Chen, Xiao-Ci Lin, Adrienne K. Blevins, Yifu Ding, Haiqing Lin
Support-free nonporous membranes have emerged as a new material platform for osmotic pressure-driven processes due to its insusceptibility to internal concentration polarization (ICP). Herein, we demonstrate high-performance membranes of zwitterionic hydrogels impregnated in porous membranes with a skin layer of highly cross-linked polyamides on both sides prepared by gel–liquid interfacial polymerization (GLIP). Such a configuration eliminates the pores and thus ICP, while the thin polyamide layer provides high salt rejection but negligible resistance to the water transport compared with the hydrogels. The polyamide skin layers are characterized using scanning electron microscopy and atomic force microscopy. The effect of the hydrogel compositions and polyamide formation conditions on the water/salt separation properties is thoroughly investigated. Example membranes show water permeance and salt rejection comparable to state-of-the-art commercial forward osmosis membranes and essentially no ICP.