Preparation and Performance Assessment of Low-Pressure Affinity Membranes Based on Functionalized, Electrospun Polyacrylates for Gold Nanoparticle Filtration
Ann-Kathrin Müller, Zhi-Kang Xu and Andreas Greiner
ACS Appl. Mater. Interfaces 2021, 13, 13, 15659–15667, https://doi.org/10.1021/acsami.1c01217
Electrospun nanofibrous membranes (ENM) possess many advantages over commonly utilized water purification systems. They provide high porosity with interconnected pores and a high surface to volume ratio, facilitating particle adsorption. Affinity separation moves into a promising future for application, for example, nanoparticle adsorption with excellent filtration efficiency, because of its highly specific adsorption mechanism. However, not all effects on filtration performance are entirely understood. In this paper, we investigate significant filtration parameters, such as pore size, mechanical stability, and hydrophilicity, and determine a sequence of importance for an optimal pressure drop. Copolymers with various hydrophilic functional groups such as acid, amide, pyridine, and quaternary amine were utilized. Effects on the pressure drop or nanoparticle filtration efficiency can then easily be attributed to the corresponding functional group. UV-light was used to induce cross-linking in the membranes, which subsequently surpassed the mechanical stability of commonly used hydrophobic membranes. A maximum tensile-stress of up to 11.6 MPa was obtained, whereby an optimization of at least 22% was achieved. Moreover, these cross-links reduce fiber swelling by a maximum of 26%. The membrane potential depends on the different functional groups and their incorporation number from 10 to 50 mol %. Successful gold nanoparticle (AuNP) filtration in flow mode was demonstrated and highlighted the outstanding membrane properties and selectivity. The Nplus membrane achieved 100% filtration efficiency over a duration of 6 min, surpassing the Pyr membrane’s performance. This was attributed to the ionic interaction of the Nplus membrane, in contrast with the physical adsorption of the Pyr membrane.