Postsynthesis modification of a cellulose acetate ultrafiltration membrane for applications in water and wastewater treatment

A. Morão, I. C. Escobar, M. T.Pessoa De Amorim, A. Lopes, I. C. Gonçalves

Research output: Contribution to specialist publicationArticle

22 Scopus citations


A technique for postsynthesis modification of a cellulose acetate ultrafiltration membrane with possible application in water and wastewater treatment is studied. The technique used an oxidizing agent (persul-fate) to develop free radicals on the membrane surface, and that was expected to promote grafting of hydrophilic macromolecules (polyethylene glycol). A chain-transfer agent (2-mercaptoethanol) was tested to control the grafting process, avoiding the formation of long chains that usually lead to high permeability losses in other graft techniques. The modifications aimed at the decrease of the fouling susceptibility of the membrane studied. The possibility of an increase in rejection was also investigated. The membrane was characterized before and after modification, by attenuated total reflectance-Fourier transform-infrared spectroscopy, scanning electron microscopy, atomic force microscopy, and in terms of the rejection of neutral reference solutes. The information given by the different techniques of characterization provided strong evidences of the occurrence of modification, although permeation of (real) foulants was the decisive test. To obtain information about the fouling tendency of the nonmodified and modified membranes, two different kinds of foulants were used: a humic acid (usually found in surface waters) and textile auxiliaries (representing one of the most important industries in Portugal). The results showed an increase in the rejections of the humic acid, and significant improvements in the performance of the membrane with respect to fouling tendency in the case of the textile auxiliaries.

Original languageEnglish
Number of pages16
Specialist publicationEnvironmental Progress
StatePublished - Dec 2005


  • Cellulose acetate
  • Fouling
  • Grafting
  • Textile
  • Ultrafiltration

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Environmental Science (all)


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