Production and Characterization of Membranes from Recycled Styrofoam for Wastewater Treatment

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Qarqesh, Alaa
Nassasra, Badrya
Izzdeen, Raya
Barahmeh, Suahad
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The production, use, and disposal of Polystyrene (a substance more commonly known as Styrofoam) causes adverse environmental and health effects. These impacts are of considerable concern, as, according to the Environmental Protection Agency, Styrofoam is the fifth largest source of hazardous waste in the United States as well as in Palestine huge amount of Styrofoam emerge as a waste due to large consumption of this plastic in different applications such as building installation and food packaging. Polystyrene is not usually recycled due to its light weight nature and the high economic cost of transporting and degreasing the petroleum based material. The main objective of this project is to produce a useful tool for wastewater treatment from the used Styrofoam by recycling to membrane. Some additives were incorporated into the casted films to improve their efficiency in waste water treatment. Other modification attempts were carried on the produced membranes. For this purpose, it was tried to manufacture membrane in a suitable process to solve this problem by dissolving Styrofoam using either toluene or tetra-hydro furan to produce a melt to be casted as a film membrane. To modify waste water treatment membrane permeability, additives were added like polyethylene glycol (PEG) and sometimes this additive was incorporated with titanium oxide (TiO2). As a result of PEG addition and by increasing the percentage of PEG, the permeability was increased. For example, by adding 5% PEG the permeability was 0.0344 L/min and by adding 10% PEG the permeability was increased to 0.12 L/min. After that, by increasing the percentage of PEG to 15%, the permeability was increased up to 0.19 L/min and by incorporation of TiO2 to PEG, the permeability was increased up to 0.44 L/min. In other way, it was tried to modify waste water membrane to have good mechanical properties by the addition of some additives like natural oils such as jojoba oil, cad oil and citronella oil or by using another non solvent like n-heptane either as an additive or as phase inversion media. It was observed that the permeability is affected by some of these additives. For example, a permeability of 0.12 L/min was achieved at 10% PEG, but when it was immersed in n-heptane the permeability decreased to 0.0725 L/min while the strength was increased.