To cite this article: Faneer, K. A, Rohani, R. & Mohammad, A. W. (2017). Synthesis and characterisation of polyethersulfone membranes incorporated with titanium dioxide nanoparticles for xylitol separation from mixed sugars solution. J. Phys. Sci., 28(Supp. 1), 73–84, https://doi.org/10.21315/jps2017.28.s1.5
Separating xylitol from xylose and arabinose, which can be achieved through the fermentation broth, is a challenging task due to their closed molecular weight. Several methods have been used for the separation including adsorption, crystallisation and membrane. The separation of xylitol from sugar mixture by using nanofiltration (NF) membrane is of particular interest in this work. NF membrane is proposed based on the range of molecular weight of the mixture components that falls in NF (200 to 2000 gmol–1). A new and efficient NF membrane used for separating xylitol from its mixture was tailored from polyethersulfone (PES) and PES incorporated with titanium dioxide (TiO2) nanoparticles (NPs) of 1 wt.% via phase inversion method followed by heat treatment. These in-house membranes were subjected to a systematic analysis, and later, their separation performance was evaluated using xylitol mixed solution. Both membranes exhibited improvement in Na2SO4 salt rejection up to 77% and 65% for unmodified and modified membranes, respectively. PES/TiO2 membrane showed hydrophilicity improvement in contact angle (from 80 ± 4.95° to 68.6 ± 2.16°) and water flux performance had increased a little from 12 to 15 L/m2.h. The separation of xylitol from sugars using PES/TiO2 membrane showed better performance compared to pure PES membrane, where the permeate flux of xylitol solution was found to increase from 4 to 7 L/m2.h when the modified membrane was used. These results indicate that the modified membrane with TiO2 NPs could be potentially used for the targeted application.