Evaluation of Humic Acid and Tannic Acid Fouling in Graphene Oxide-Coated Ultrafiltration Membranes

Kyoung Hoon Chu, Yi Huang, Miao Yu, Namguk Her, Joseph R.V. Flora, Chang Min Park, Suhan Kim, Jaeweon Cho, Yeomin Yoon

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Three commercially available ultrafiltration (UF) membranes (poly(ether sulfone), PES) that have nominal molecular weight cut-offs (5, 10, and 30 kDa) were coated with graphene oxide (GO) nanosheets. Field-emission scanning electron microscopy, Fourier-transform infrared spectroscopy, confocal laser scanning microscopy, water contact angle measurements, and X-ray photoelectron spectroscopy were employed to determine the changed physicochemical properties of the membranes after GO coating. The water permeability and single-solute rejection of GO-coated (GOC) membranes for humic acid (HA) molecules were significantly higher by approximately 15% and 55%, respectively, compared to those of pristine UF membranes. However, the GOc membranes for single-solute tannic acid (TA) rejection showed similar trends of higher flux decline versus pristine PES membranes, because the relatively smaller TA molecules were readily adsorbed onto the membrane pores. When the mixed-solute of HA and TA rejection tests were performed, in particular, the adsorbed small TA molecules resulted in irreversible membrane fouling due to cake formation and membrane pore blocking on the membrane surface for the HA molecules. Although both membranes showed significantly higher flux declines for small molecules rejection, the GOc membranes showed better performance than the pristine UF membranes in terms of the rejection of various mixed-solute molecules, due to higher membrane recovery and antifouling capabilities.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)22270-22279
Number of pages10
JournalACS Applied Materials and Interfaces
Issue number34
StatePublished - 31 Aug 2016

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2016 American Chemical Society.


  • antifouling
  • graphene oxide coating
  • humic acid and tannic acid
  • membrane surface modification
  • surface water treatment


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