Fundamental water and ion transport characterization of sulfonated polysulfone desalination materials
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Sulfonated polysulfones BisAS and BPS were fabricated into dense polymer films, and their water and ion transport properties were systematically characterized. Fundamental NaCl and water transport properties were correlated with polymer chemistry, and water and NaCl permeability were found to increase with degree of sulfonation due to the increasing polymer water content. The BisAS backbone structure was found to result in greater water uptake, increasing water and salt permeability, though the polysulfones show evidence of sensitivity to the thermal casting process as well. Additionally, water and ion permeability and sorption values were determined for select polymers when exposed to a feed consisting of mixtures of monovalent and divalent cation salts. The divalent cations were found to sorb into the polymer much more favorably than the monovalent sodium, similarly to charged materials found in the literature. The sodium permeability of sulfonated polysulfones was found to increase in the presence of divalent cations by ratios of 2 to 5 times more than when exposed to an equivalent increase in feed charge concentration of monovalent cations. It has been hypothesized the more strongly charged divalent cations are neutralizing the sulfonate charges and suppressing Donnan exclusionary effects that reduce salt transport in charged polymers.