SUBJECT: M.S. Thesis Presentation
BY: Johanna Tomkiewicz
TIME: Tuesday, November 23, 2021, 1:00 p.m.
PLACE: Love Building, 210
TITLE: Manufacturing and Performance of Activated Carbon-Coated Nanofiltration Membranes
COMMITTEE: Dr. Marta Hatzell, Chair (ME)
Dr. Yongsheng Chen (CEE)
Dr. Peter Hesketh (ME)


Membrane-based desalination is becoming increasingly important due to rising global water scarcity. Both membrane systems and adsorption-based technologies are critical for most water treatment processes. Membranes are effective at removing total dissolved salts and particulate matter from water and adsorption-based technologies are ideal for removing organic compounds. By combining adsorption and membranes together, there may be potential to create a lower energy treatment process with reduced system complexity, and therefore reduced cost. Merging adsorption and membranes together may also alleviate some of the limitations associated with each technology. Specifically, commercial membranes require high pressures and their salt removal capabilities tend to decline in harsh conditions. Activated Carbon (AC) is a highly adsorptive material that is used in wastewater treatment, but processing it with the wastewater can be a time-consuming and expensive process. Therefore, combining membrane technology and activated carbon adsorption into a single step may increase wastewater treatment efficiency and improve membrane performance.

This thesis seeks to understand the feasibility of manufacturing an activated carbon-coated commercial Nanofiltration (NF) membrane in order to improve water treatment performance. Several coating methods were tested, including film coating and vacuum filtration coating, to determine the most suitable method for manufacturing the activated carbon-coated membranes. Activated carbon concentration was varied to investigate the coating thickness's impact on membrane flux and salt rejection; these performance tests were carried out in a Sterlitech HP4750 dead-end cell with an aqueous magnesium sulfate solution as the feed solution. Characterization tests such as contact angle testing and Scanning Electron Microscopy (SEM) were carried out to develop a comprehensive understanding of the modified membranes.