Facile hydrophilic modification of PVDF membrane with Ag/EGCG decorated micro/nanostructural surface for efficient oil-in-water emulsion separation

Zhang, Na Yang, Na* Zhang, Luhong Jiang, Bin Sun, Yongli Ma, Jingwen Cheng, Kai Peng, Feife*

School of Chemical Engineering and Technology, Tianjin University, Tianjin 300072, PR China

Received 15 October 2019, Revised 20 June 2020, Accepted 5 July 2020, Available online 8 July 2020..


Wettability of porous materials is crucial for the separation of emulsified oil/water mixtures. Herein, high hydrophobicity of polyvinylidene fluoride (PVDF) membrane has been facilely transformed to high hydrophilicity and underwater superoleophobicity via single-step coating of plant-derived epigallocatechin gallate (EGCG) and silver ion (Ag+) in aqueous solution. EGCG can chelate with Ag+ and in-situ reduced it into Ag nanoparticle, meanwhile Ag/EGCG composite was adhered on membrane surface due to the high surface binding affinity of EGCG. The hydrophilic EGCG and formed micro/nanostructure together improved membrane hydrophilicity and oleophobicity. The optimally Ag/EGCG modified PVDF membrane possesses high permeate flux (e.g. 735 L/(m2h) for diesel-in-water emulsion, while it is zero for pristine PVDF membrane) under a low operation pressure of 0.5 bar and high oil rejections in the treatment of surfactant-stabilized oil-in-water emulsions consisting of micro/nano scale droplets. In addition, the membrane exhibits excellent antifouling property with a flux recovery ratio of 98.1% and satisfactory reusability in a 5-cycle test. Moreover, the membrane possessed desired stability during long-term rinsing test and Ag leaching test. This work would offer new insights into surface hydrophilic manipulation of porous membrane towards practical oil emulsion purification.

Graphical abstract


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