Impacts of Sulfuric Acid on the Stability and Separation Performance of Polymeric PVDF-Based Membranes at Mild and High Concentrations: An Experimental Study
This study investigated the effects of an aqueous acidic solution at typical concentrations on polymeric polyvinylidene fluoride (PVDF)-based membranes. Flat-sheet PVDF-based membranes were completely embedded in sulfuric acid at varying concentrations. The effect of the acid concentration after a prolonged exposure time on the chemical, mechanical and physical properties of the membrane were checked via FE-SEM, EDX (Energy-Dispersive Spectrometer), FTIR, XRD, tensile strength, zeta potential,
... h, zeta potential, contact angle, porosity, pure water flux measurement and visual observation. The result reveals prompt initiation of reaction between the PVDF membrane and sulfuric acid, even at a mild concentration. As the exposure time extends with increasing concentration, the change in chemical and mechanical properties become more pronounced, especially in the morphology, although this was not really noticeable in either the crystalline phase or the functional group analyses. The ultimate mechanical strength decreased from 46.18 ± 0.65 to 32.39 ± 0.22 MPa, while the hydrophilicity was enhanced due to enlargement of the pores. The flux at the highest concentration and exposure period increased by 2.3 times that of the neat membrane, while the BSA (Bovine Serum Albumin) rejection dropped by 55%. Similar to in an alkaline environment, the stability and performance of the PVDF-based membrane analyzed in this study manifested general deterioration.