Year of Publication


Document Type





Chemical Engineering

First Advisor

Dibakar Bhattacharyya


The primary focus of the research is to extend the principles of Nanofiltration(NF) to non-aqueous systems using solvent-resistant NF membranes. Several differentlevels of interaction are introduced when organic solvents are used with polymericmembranes and thus quantification of polymer-solvent interactions is critical. Puresolvent permeation studies were conducted to understand the mechanism of solventtransport through polymeric membranes. Different membrane materials (hydrophilic andhydrophobic) as well as different solvents (polar and non-polar) were used for the study.For example, hexane flux at 13 bar through a hydrophobic silicone based NF membranewas ~ 0.6 x 10-4 cm3/cm2. s. and that through a hydrophilic aromatic polyamide based NFmembrane was ~ 6 x 10-4 cm3/cm2. s. A simple model based on a solution-diffusionapproach which uses solvent physical properties (molar volume, viscosity) andmembrane properties (surface energy, etc) is used for correlating the pure solventpermeation through hydrophobic polymeric membranes.Solute transport studies were performed using organic dyes and triglycerides inpolar and non-polar solvents. For example, the rejection of Sudan IV (384 MW organicdye) in n-hexane medium is about 25 % at 15 bar and that in methanol is about –10 % atabout 20 bar for a hydrophobic (PDMS-based) membrane. However, for a hydrophilicpolyamide based NF membrane, the direction of separation is reversed (86 % in methanoland 43 % in n-hexane). From our experimental data with two types of membranes it isclear that coupling of the solute and solvent fluxes cannot be neglected. Two traditionaltransport theories (Spiegler-Kedem and Surface Force-Pore Flow model) that considercoupling were evaluated with literature and our experimental solute permeation data. Amodel based on a fundamental chemical potential gradient approach has been proposedfor explaining solute separation. The model uses solute, solvent and membrane physicalproperties and uses the Flory-Huggins and UNIFAC theories as activity coefficientmodels. This model has been used to obtain a correlation for the diffusion coefficients ofsolutes in hexane through a hydrophobic membrane. This correlation along withconvective coupling can be used to predict separation behavior for different solutes and atdifferent temperatures.