Morphology-properties relationship of gas plasma treated hydrophobic meso-porous membranes and their improved performance for desalination by membrane distillation

Ludovic F. Dumée, Hortense Alglave, Thomas Chaffraix, Bao Lin, Kevin Magniez, Jürg Schütz

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

24 Scopus citations

Abstract

The impact on performance of the surface energy and roughness of membrane materials used for direct contact membrane distillation are critical but yet poorly investigated parameters. The capacity to alter the wettability of highly hydrophobic materials such as poly(tetra-fluoro-ethylene) (PTFE) by gas plasma treatments is reported in this paper. An equally important contribution from this investigation arises from illustrating how vaporized material from the treated sample participates after a short while in the composition of the plasma and fundamentally changes the result of surface chemistry processes. The water contact angle across the hydrophobic membranes is generally controlled by varying the plasma gas conditions, such as the plasma power, chamber pressure and irradiation duration. Changes to surface porosity and roughness of the bulk material as well as the surface chemistry, through specific and partial de-fluorination of the surface were detected and systematically studied by Fourier transform infra-red analysis and scanning electron microscopy. It was found that the rupture of fibrils, formed during membrane processing by thermal-stretching, led to the formation of a denser surface composed of nodules similar to these naturally acting as bridging points across the membrane material between fibrils. This structural change has a profound and impart a permanent effect on the permeation across the modified membranes, which was found to be enhanced by up to 10% for long plasma exposures while the selectivity of the membranes was found to remain unaffected by the treatment at a level higher than 99.99%. This is the first time that an investigation demonstrates how the permeation characteristics of these membranes is directly related to data from spectral, morphological and surface charge analyses, which provide new insights on the impact of plasma treatments on both, the surface charge and roughness, of PTFE porous materials.

Original languageBritish English
Pages (from-to)273-285
Number of pages13
JournalApplied Surface Science
Volume363
DOIs
StatePublished - 15 Feb 2016

Keywords

  • Defluorination
  • Membrane distillation
  • Surface energy
  • Surface plasma treatment
  • Surface texturing

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