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Indirect Determination of Zeta Potential at High Ionic Strength: Specific Application to Semipermeable Polymeric Membranes

Indirect Determination of Zeta Potential at High Ionic Strength: Specific Application to Semipermeable Polymeric Membranes

Coday, B. D., Luxbacher, T., Childress, A. E., Almaraz, N., Xu, P., and Cath, T. Y.
Published In: 
Journal of Membrane Science ,  
January 2015

The understanding of membrane charge neutralization and diffuse layer compression at environmentally relevant ionic strengths is becoming increasingly important. In this work, the impact of high ionic strengths on membrane zeta potential was determined using a combination of streaming potential measurements and theoretical modeling. Streaming potential measurements were conducted on cellulose triacetate (CTA) and polyamide thin-film composite (TFC) membranes at ionic strengths within the operating limits of an electrokinetic analyzer. Zeta potential calculated from streaming potential was then extrapolated to environmentally relevant ionic strengths (0.05 to 1 M 1:1 electrolyte) using the Debye–Hückel and Helmholtz-Smoluchowski models. Extrapolated zeta potential values revealed that membrane charge neutralization and compression of the diffuse layer are limited by the size of the hydrated counter-ions, and full membrane charge neutralization, or even charge reversal, cannot be achieved. The expected zeta potential of CTA membranes was similar to that of TFC membranes at high ionic strength, which has considerable implications in the comparison of membrane performance when treating brackish and saline feed waters. The methodologies developed in this work can help to better understand the contribution of electrostatic forces resulting from zeta potential to the sum of interfacial forces present at the membrane surface.

​Coday, B. D., Luxbacher, T., Childress, A. E., Almaraz, N., Xu, P., and Cath, T. Y. "Indirect Determination of Zeta Potential at High Ionic Strength: Specific Application to Semipermeable Polymeric Membranes." Journal of Membrane Science, 478, 58-64, 2015.