Fouling and Retention Mechanisms of Selected Cationic and Anionic Dyes in a Ti3C2Tx MXene-Ultrafiltration Hybrid System

Sewoon Kim, Miao Yu, Yeomin Yoon

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Ti3C2Tx MXenes, a very new family of nanostructured material, were applied in combination with an ultrafiltration (UF) membrane (MXene-UF) for removal of the selected dyes including methylene blue (MB) and methyl orange (MO) as the first attempt. The normalized flux of the MXene-UF (0.90 for MB and 0.92 for MO) indicated better performance than a single UF (0.86 for MB and 0.90 for MO) and a powdered activated carbon (PAC)-UF (0.72 for MB and 0.75 for MO) for both dyes. The addition of an adsorbent decreased the irreversible fouling of the hybrid system compared to single UF, due to adsorption of dyes. The observed dominant fouling mechanism was cake layer fouling, evaluated using a resistance-in-series model, permeate flux modeling, and four conceptual blocking law models. PAC in particular acted as a foulant, leading to a severe flux decline. The average retention rate was found to be on the order of PAC-UF (57.7 and 47.9%) > MXene-UF (51.7 and 34.9%) > single UF (45.0 and 34.7%) for MB and MO, respectively. The results showed that although PAC exhibits relatively strong adsorption performance, MXene-UF also exhibited high selectivity due to electrostatic interaction between the MXene and dyes. In addition, humic acid (HA) adsorption on the membrane led to a reduction in the effective membrane area, resulting in a higher retention and lower flux for MXene-UF in the presence of HA. Furthermore, higher retention was observed for MXene-UF at pH 10.5 compared to pH 3.5 and 7, because MXene has more negative terminations at higher pH, leading to greater MB adsorption. Additionally, because of the bridging effect between the membrane and the MXene and competition between MB and cation ions for adsorption on the MXene, lower retention and flux were observed in MXene-UF with background ions.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)16557-16565
Number of pages9
JournalACS Applied Materials and Interfaces
Issue number14
StatePublished - 8 Apr 2020

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
Copyright © 2020 American Chemical Society.


  • MXene
  • adsorption
  • dyes
  • fouling mechanism
  • membrane
  • removal mechanism


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