Biomimetic Membrane Performance in Pressure Retarded Osmosis for Water Reclamation Applications
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Improvements in water reclamation techniques are becoming increasingly popular due to freshwater insufficiency, contamination of water sources, and poor maintenance of water supplies. Since water scarcity represents a problem for people on earth, it will pose a problem for space exploration missions. In the direction of creating a more cost-effective reclamation system, Pressure Retarded Osmosis (PRO) can be used to reclaim water and generate renewable osmotic power. Lyotropic liquid crystals (LLC) were incorporated in the membranes active layer and evaluated for PRO applications. In this work, two parameters were compared, membrane thicknesses of 100 �m and 120 �m and membranes with and without LLC active layer modification. Atomic force microscopy showed an increment in surface roughness as modification took place, implying higher porosity. Modified membranes using LLC with a thickness of 120 �m membrane had the best results overall with a water flux of 10.2 LMH and 9.4 LMH using urea and nano pure water as feed, respectively. The modified membranes also present excellent urea rejection above 90% compared to their unmodified counterparts.