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J Environ Manage. 2018 May 1;213:168-179. doi: 10.1016/j.jenvman.2018.02.063. Epub 2018 Feb 26.

Preparation, characterisation and critical flux determination of graphene oxide blended polysulfone (PSf) membranes in an MBR system.

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School of Engineering, RMIT University, Melbourne, Australia.
College of Engineering and Science, Victoria University, Melbourne, Australia.
School of Engineering, RMIT University, Melbourne, Australia. Electronic address:


Microfiltration membranes having different blends of graphene-oxide (GO) (0-1 wt%) and Polysulfone (PSf) (15-20 wt%) were prepared using the classical non-solvent induced phase inversion process. The prepared membranes were characterised for their structural morphology, surface properties, mechanical strength, porosity and pure water flux. Based on the initial characterisation results, four membranes (15 wt% PSf, 15 wt% PSf + 0.25 wt% GO, 15 wt% PSf + 1 wt% GO and 20 wt% PSf + 1 wt% GO) were chosen for critical flux study, that was conducted using flux-step method in a lab scale MBR system. In order to study the application potential of GO blended membranes, the critical flux of each membrane was evaluated in two operational modes i.e., continuous and intermittent modes with backwash. The membranes with maximal GO concentration (15 wt% PSf + 1 wt% GO and 20 wt% PSf + 1 wt% GO) showed higher critical flux (16.5, 12.8 L/m2h and 19, 15 L/m2h for continuous and intermittent mode, respectively). It was observed that the operational modes did not have a significant effect on the critical flux of the membranes with low GO concentration (15 wt% PSf and 15 wt% PSf + 0.25 wt% GO), indicating a minimal of 1 wt% GO was required for an observable effect that favoured intermittent mode of operation. Through these results, ideal operating condition was arrived (i.e., flux maintained at 6.4 L/m2h operated under intermittent mode) and the membranes 15 wt% PSf and 15 wt% PSf + 1 wt% GO were studied for their long-term operation. The positive effect of GO on filtration time, cleaning frequency and against fouling was demonstrated through long term TMP profile of the membranes, indicating the suitability of GO blended membrane for real time wastewater treatment.


Graphene oxide; Hydrophilic membranes; MBR system; Polysulfone (PSf); Short-term critical flux

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