The organic foulants and bacteria in secondary wastewater treatment can seriously impair the membrane performance in a water treatment plant. The embedded electrode approach using an externally applied potential to repel organic foulants and inhibit bacterial adhesion can effectively reduce the frequency of membrane replacement. Electrode embedment in membranes is often carried out by dispensing a conductor (e.g., carbon nanotubes, or CNTs) in the membrane substrate, which gives rise to two problems: the leaching-out of the conductor and a percolation-limited membrane conductivity that results in an added energy cost. This study presents a facile method for the embedment of a continuous electrode in thin-film composite (TFC) forward osmosis (FO) membranes. Specifically, a conducting porous carbon paper is used as the understructure for the formation of a membrane substrate by the classical phase inversion process. The carbon paper and the membrane substrate polymer form an interpenetrating structure with good stability and low electrical resistance (only about 1ω/). The membrane-electrode assembly was deployed as the cathode of an electrochemical cell, and showed good resistance to organic and microbial fouling with the imposition of a 2.0 V DC voltage. The carbon paper-based FO TFC membranes also possess good mechanical stability for practical use.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Environmental Chemistry