Porous SiC based materials present high mechanical, chemical and thermal robustness, and thus have been largely applied to water-filtration technologies. In this study, commercial SiC microfiltration tubes with nominal pore size of 0.04 m were used as carrier for depositing thin aluminium oxide (Al2O3) ultrafiltration membranes. These ultrafiltration membranes were obtained by coating, drying and calcination of a colloidal suspension of boehmite particles. After calcination, the membrane material consisted of nano-sized Υ-Al2O3 crystallites and had a narrow pore size distribution with average pore size of 5.5 nm. Membrane thickness was tuned by repeating the coating of the boehmite sol. By doing so, we were able to reduce the defect density on the membrane surface, as evidenced by SEM analysis and by the significant reduction of water permeance after depositing the second γ-Al2O3 layer. After 5 times coating, a 5.6 µm thick γ-Al2O3 layer was obtained. This membrane shows retention of ~75% for polyethylene glycol molecules with Mn of 8 and 35 kDa, indicating that, despite their intrinsic surface roughness, commercial SiC microfiltration tubes can be applied as carrier for thin ultrafiltration membranes. This work also indicates that an improvement of the commercial SiC support surface smoothness may greatly enhance permeance and selectivity of Υ-Al2O3 ultrafiltration membranes by allowing the deposition of thinner defect-free layers.
Ceramics International, 2014, Vol 40, Issue 2, p. 3277-3285