The emergence of facile approaches for the large-scale production of graphene oxide (GO) membranes necessitates a clearer understanding of their potential to foul and, more importantly, strategies for efficient recovery of membrane performance following fouling. Here, we systematically investigated the feasibility of water, ethanol, and hypochlorite as cleaning agents to remove organic foulants over a GO membrane. Among them, 100 ppm hypochlorite solution showed a remarkable ability to remove bovine serum albumin (BSA) and could recover the membrane flux up to 98% after five cycles of BSA filtration and cleaning. The potential of hypochlorite was also demonstrated for permeance recovery during molecular filtration of tannic acid and methyl blue. Scanning electron microscopy, attenuated total reflectance-Fourier transform infrared spectroscopy (ATR-FTIR), and X-ray diffraction (XRD) analyses were used to study the oxidative effects of hypochlorite on the GO membrane, and it was determined that exposure to higher concentrations of hypochlorite (>1000 ppm) degrades the structure of GO membrane and deteriorates the membrane performance after three cycles of cleaning. The studies demonstrate that the use of a modest concentration of hypochlorite is effective in restoring permeance of this class of high flux nanofiltration membranes.
- flux recovery
- graphene oxide