Reactive, Self-Cleaning Ultrafiltration Membrane Functionalized with Iron Oxychloride Nanocatalysts

Meng Sun, Ines Zucker, Douglas M. Davenport, Xuechen Zhou, Jiuhui Qu, Menachem Elimelech

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Self-cleaning, antifouling ultrafiltration membranes are critically needed to mitigate organic fouling in water and wastewater treatment. In this study, we fabricated a novel polyvinylidene fluoride (PVDF) composite ultrafiltration membrane coated with FeOCl nanocatalysts (FeOCl/PVDF) via a facile, scalable thermal-treatment method, for the synergetic separation and degradation of organic pollutants. The structure, composition, and morphology of the FeOCl/PVDF membrane were extensively characterized. Results showed that the as-prepared FeOCl/PVDF membrane was uniformly covered with FeOCl nanoparticles with an average diameter of 1-5 nm, which greatly enhanced membrane hydrophilicity. The catalytic self-cleaning and antifouling properties of the FeOCl/PVDF membrane were evaluated in the presence of H2O2 at neutral pH. Using a facile H2O2 cleaning process, we showed that the FeOCl/PVDF membrane can achieve an excellent water flux recovery rate of ∼100%, following organic fouling with a model organic foulant (bovine serum albumin). Moreover, the in situ catalytic production of active hydroxyl radicals by the FeOCl/PVDF membrane was elucidated by electron spin resonance (ESR) and UV analysis. The catalytic performance of the FeOCl/PVDF membrane was further demonstrated by the complete degradation of bisphenol A when H2O2 was dosed in the feed solution at neutral pH. Our results demonstrate the promise of utilizing this novel membrane for the treatment of waters with complex organic pollutants.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)8674-8683
Number of pages10
JournalEnvironmental Science & Technology
Issue number15
StatePublished - 7 Aug 2018
Externally publishedYes


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