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International Journal of Polymer Science
Volume 2017, Article ID 3587019, 8 pages
Research Article

Fabrication and Assessment of ZnO Modified Polyethersulfone Membranes for Fouling Reduction of Bovine Serum Albumin

1Faculty of Agriculture, Science and Technology, Department of Chemistry, Department of Agriculture, North-West University, Mafikeng Campus, Private Bag X2046, Mmabatho 2735, South Africa
2Advanced Materials Divisions, DST/Mintek Nanotechnology Innovation Centre, Mintek, Randburg, South Africa
3Faculty of Applied and Computer Sciences, Department of Chemistry, Vaal University of Technology, Private Bag X021, Vanderbijlpark 1911, South Africa
4DST/Mintek Nanotechnology Innovation Centre-Water Research Node, University of Johannesburg, P.O. Box 17011, Doornfontein, Johannesburg 2028, South Africa

Correspondence should be addressed to Kate Kotlhao; moc.liamg@oahltoketak and Michael Klink;

Received 21 October 2016; Accepted 4 December 2016; Published 19 January 2017

Academic Editor: Bernabé L. Rivas

Copyright © 2017 Tshepo Duncan Dipheko et al. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


ZnO/PES composite membranes were fabricated by phase inversion method using DMAc as a solvent. The structure of ZnO was investigated using TEM, SEM, XRD, and TGA. TEM images of ZnO nanoparticles were well-defined, small, and spherically shaped with agglomerated nanoparticles particles of 50 nm. The SEM and XRD results were an indication that ZnO nanoparticles were present in the prepared ZnO/PES composites membranes. Contact angle measurements were used to investigate surface structures of the composite membranes. The amount of ZnO nanoparticles on PES membranes was varied to obtain the optimal performance of the composite membranes in terms of pure water flux, flux recovery, and fouling resistance using the protein bovine serum albumin (BSA) as a model organic foulant. The results showed that addition of ZnO to PES membranes improved the hydrophilicity, permeation, and fouling resistance properties of the membranes. Pure water flux increased from a low of 250 L/m2h for the neat membrane to a high of 410 L/m2h for the composite membranes. A high flux recovery of 80–94% was obtained for the composite membranes. The optimal performance of the composite membranes was obtained at 1.5 wt% of ZnO.