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Organic Solvent Nanofiltration Thin Film Composite (TFC) membranes

M.F. Jimenez Solomon, Y. Bhole, A.G. Livingston
Imperial College London, UK

Keywords: organic solvent nanofiltration, solvent resistant, thin film composite membranes, interfacial polymerization


Organic Solvent Nanofiltration (OSN) is an emerging technology for conventional separation and purification processes. A challenge in nanofiltration and reverse osmosis is to broaden the applications from aqueous to organic feeds. This requires solvent-resistant membranes that preserve their separation characteristics under a large range of solvents. Using integrally skinned asymmetric membranes we have difficulty in imposing control of the structure of the top layer, which controls selectivity, flux and separation. One way to solve this problem is to make the top layer in a separate step (e.g. by interfacial polymerization) using alternative chemistries, resulting in Thin Film Composite (TFC) membranes, which have key advantages compared to integrally skinned asymmetric membranes. In this work, crosslinked polyimide UF membranes were used as supports for the formation of OSN TFC membranes by interfacial polymerization. Promising results have been obtained by varying different parameters on the formation of the top-layer, enhancing solvent flux and solute rejection in different solvents, including DMF, THF and Toluene. These are the first TFC membranes prepared via interfacial polymerization to be resistant in DMF. In collaboration with GSK, we have demonstrated the applicability of these membranes in the purification of Active Pharmaceutical Ingredients in a THF/water solvent mixture.
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