The development and characteristics of porous EVOH membranes by cold-solvent induced phase separation (CIPS) process were investigated. Binary dopes of 1,3-propandiol/EVOH prepared at 80 °C were immersed in 1,3-propandiol at a lower temperature to engender polymer precipitation. The quench temperature affects phase separation modes, and hence structure and performance of resulting CIPS membranes. When the bath temperature was set below the crystallization line and above the binodal (e.g. 45 °C), the formed membrane was dominated by a packing of semicrystalline EVOH globules. When the bath was set at a temperature just below the spinodal (e.g. 20 °C), spinodal decomposition (SD) dominated the precipitation process to give a lacy-like bicontinuous structure; yet there is also a clear imprint from polymer crystallization. When the bath temperature was set deeply within the spinodal dome (e.g. 5 °C), polymer crystallization affected only little the SD-derived bicontinuous morphology. Water permeation flux, wettability, tensile strength, and ultra-filtration experiments of the membranes were conducted. The results indicated that those properties were closely correlated with the porosity level, pore size, and membrane morphology. Moreover, X-ray diffraction and DSC analyses indicated that the formed membranes had a crystallinity of 38 to 42%, consistent with the literature data.
Journal of Applied Polymer Science 134(10), pp.44553(10pages)