Paper membranes made from vulcanized cellulose were used for the pervaporation (PV) of aqueous solutions containing methanol, ethanol, and isopropanol. It was noted that the vulcanized cellulose paper membranes (VCPM) could effectively separate alcohol and water from the mixture solutions. To observe the effect of the separation of alcohol aqueous mixtures, the permeation behavior of water and alcohol was examined by means of the separation factor and the permeation flux. The values of the permeation flux in the ethanol/water mixtures were found to vary from 6.2 kg/m2h to 2.1 kg/m2h, as the concentration of ethanol increased from 8 to 87 wt %, and the separation factor (α) changed from α = 2.6 to 6.6, respectively. This showed that the VCPM enhanced the separation of water and alcohol. The highest value observed for the permeation flux was 11 kg/m2h at 87 wt % of methanol concentration and the separation factor at this condition was 4.1. It was shown also that an efficient separation was obtained in the isopropanol/water mixture with a separation factor of 16.6. The contact angles of alcohol/water droplets on the VCPM were measured as well as the wettability of the membrane. There was a tendency of decrease for the contact angle, as the alcohol concentration decreased. This suggested that the solvent wettability decreased in high alcohol concentrations. It was concluded that a high permeabilitty of water through the VCPM resulted in the separation of alcohols and water in the PV process. © 2011 Wiley Periodicals, Inc. J Appl Polym Sci, 2011
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