The development of a new type of composite membrane consisting of a microfiltration support membrane, an immobilised liquid membrane phase and a hydrophilic, charged polymer layer and its function as a supported liquid membrane (SLM) for copper selective transport are described. The ion-exchange layers function as stabilisation layers to improve the membrane lifetime and consist of sulphonated poly(ether ether ketone) (SPEEK). This polymer shows a high permeability for copper ions due to the presence of fixed negative charges and to its swelling capacity in an aqueous phase. A method was developed to prepare composite membranes composed of the support membranes Celgard with one stabilisation layer on either the feed or strip side of the membrane or on both sides. Good adhesion of homogeneous, negatively charged, hydrophilic SPEEK layers to the hydrophobic macroporous support membranes could only be established when the support membranes were first hydrophilised with a concentrated sulphuric acid solution containing 5 wt% free SO3. The lifetime of the SLMs is significantly improved when one stabilisation layer is applied at the strip side or two layers at both sides of the SLM. A second advantage of this composite SLM is the increase in copper flux caused by a decrease in thickness of liquid membrane phase. However, when SPEEK penetrates entirely through some pores of the support membrane, ions diffuse non-specifically through the SPEEK matrix resulting in an undesired selectivity loss. This phenomenon occurs only when thin Celgard membranes are used as support membranes.
Wijers, M. C., Wijers, M. C., Jin meifang, J., Wessling, M., & Strathmann, H. (1998). Supported liquid membranes modification with sulphonated poly(ether ether ketone). Permeability, selectivity and stability. Journal of membrane science, 1998(147), 117-130. https://doi.org/10.1016/S0376-7388(98)00131-8