Salt solubility measurements in partially disulfonated poly(arylene ether sulfone) for reverse osmosis water purification applications
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Partially disulfonated poly(arylene ether sulfone) (BPS) membranes have shown great promise as robust, chlorine tolerant alternatives to the current polyamide materials as reverse osmosis desalination membranes for water purification. The random copolymers are synthesized by direct polymerization of a disulfonated monomer (3,3’-disulfonato-4,4’-dichlorodiphenyl sulfone (SDCDPS)) and other monomers (4,4’-dichlorodiphenyl sulfone (DCDPS) and 4,4’-biphenol (BP)). The sulfonation of the materials adds necessary hydrophilic character and adjusting the percent sulfonation of the material changes the water and salt uptake of the material. Additionally, sulfonation causes the membranes to be charged, making them ion exchangers in which anions are partially excluded from the membrane, thus affecting the partitioning of salt in the membrane. The amount of sodium chloride present in the membrane after equilibration with external soaking solutions of varying concentrations of sodium chloride was measured by measuring the amount of individual ions, i.e., the sodium cation and chloride anion, separately. One area in which this work is unique is that it sought to measure the concentrations of the ions independently of one another. The analysis of sodium and chloride has shown the concentration of sodium in the membrane to be significantly greater than that of chloride, where the uptake of chloride is the limiting factor in the uptake of sodium chloride. The trends in the concentrations as well as in the partition coefficients of the ions are consistent with Donnan Exclusion.