Chlorine resistant reverse osmosis (RO) membranes were fabricated using a multi-walled carbon nanotube-polyamide (MWCNT-PA) nanocomposite. The separation performance of these membranes after chlorine exposure (4800 ppm·h) remained unchanged (99.9%) but was drastically reduced to 82% in the absence of MWCNT. It was observed that the surface roughness of the membranes changed significantly by adding MWCNT. Moreover, membranes containing MWCNT fractions above 12.5 wt.% clearly improved degradation resistance against chlorine exposure, with an increase in water flux while maintaining salt rejection performance. Molecular dynamics and quantum chemical calculations were performed in order to understand the high chemical stability of the MWCNT-PA nanocomposite membranes, and revealed that high activation energies are required for the chlorination of PA. The results presented here confirm the unique potential of carbon nanomaterials embedded in polymeric composite membranes for efficient RO water desalination technologies.
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