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United States Patent Application 20170341031
Kind Code A1
Zhou; Jinsheng ;   et al. November 30, 2017

METHOD OF FORMING AN ASYMMETRIC MEMBRANE

Abstract

The present disclosure provides methods for forming asymmetric membranes. More specifically, methods are provided for applying a polymerizable species to a porous substrate for forming a coated porous substrate. The coated porous substrate is exposed to an ultraviolet radiation source having a peak emission wavelength less than 340 nm to polymerize the polymerizable species forming a polymerized material retained within the porous substrate so that the concentration of polymerized material is greater at the first major surface than at the second major surface.


Inventors: Zhou; Jinsheng; (Woodbury, MN) ; Hester; Jonathan F.; (Hudson, WI) ; Dehn; Derek J.; (Maplewood, MN) ; Meehan; Daniel P.; (Newport, MN) ; Wright; Robin E.; (Hudson, WI)
Applicant:
Name City State Country Type

3M INNOVATIVE PROPERTIES COMPANY

St. Paul

MN

US
Family ID: 1000002766876
Appl. No.: 15/664325
Filed: July 31, 2017


Related U.S. Patent Documents

Application NumberFiling DatePatent Number
12997658Dec 13, 20109751050
PCT/US2009/043687May 13, 2009
15664325
61076946Jun 30, 2008

Current U.S. Class: 1/1
Current CPC Class: B01D 69/141 20130101; B01D 69/10 20130101; B01D 2325/38 20130101; B01D 2325/36 20130101; B01D 2325/16 20130101; B01D 2325/14 20130101; B01D 2325/022 20130101; B01D 2323/345 20130101; B01D 2323/30 20130101; B01D 71/40 20130101; B01D 71/26 20130101; B01D 69/125 20130101; B01D 69/12 20130101; B01D 69/02 20130101; B01D 67/0006 20130101; Y10T 428/24942 20150115
International Class: B01D 69/02 20060101 B01D069/02; B01D 67/00 20060101 B01D067/00; B01D 71/26 20060101 B01D071/26; B01D 69/12 20060101 B01D069/12; B01D 69/14 20060101 B01D069/14; B01D 71/40 20060101 B01D071/40; B01D 69/10 20060101 B01D069/10

Claims



1. An asymmetric membrane formed by a method comprising: providing a porous substrate having a first major surface and a second major surface; applying a polymerizable composition to the porous substrate providing a coated porous substrate, the polymerizable composition comprising i) at least one polymerizable species; and ii) at least one photoinitiator; and exposing the coated porous substrate to an ultraviolet radiation source having a peak emission wavelength less than 340 nm to polymerize the polymerizable species, wherein the photoinitiator residing at the first major surface is exposed to a greater peak irradiance of ultraviolet radiation than the photoinitiator residing further into the thickness of the porous substrate thus reducing the amount of polymerization within the pores of the substrate through the thickness of the substrate, thereby providing an asymmetric membrane, the asymmetric membrane having a polymerized material retained within the porous substrate, the polymerized material having a concentration greater at the first major surface than at the second major surface.

2. The asymmetric membrane of claim 1, wherein un-polymerized material within the porous substrate is removed.

3. The asymmetric membrane of claim 1, wherein the porous substrate is microporous.

4. The asymmetric membrane of claim 1, having a gradient concentration of polymerized polymerizable material extending from the first major surface to the second major surface.

5. The asymmetric membrane of claim 1, wherein the porous substrate is microporous.

6. The asymmetric membrane of claim 1, wherein the porous substrate comprises a microporous, thermally-induced phase separation membrane.

7. The asymmetric membrane of claim 1, wherein the porous substrate is hydrophilic.

8. The asymmetric membrane of claim 1, wherein the porous substrate is hydrophobic.

9. The asymmetric membrane of claim 1, wherein the porous substrate comprises a film, a nonwoven web, a woven web, a fiber, or combinations thereof.

10. The asymmetric membrane of claim 9, wherein the porous substrate further comprises a particulate.

11. The asymmetric membrane of claim 9, wherein the fiber is a hollow fiber.

12. The asymmetric membrane of claim 1, wherein the porous substrate comprises polyolefins, polyamides, fluorinated polymers, poly(ether)sulfones, cellulosics, poly(ether)imides, polyacrylonitriles, polyvinyl chlorides, ceramics, or combinations thereof.

13. The asymmetric membrane of claim 12, wherein the porous substrate comprises polyolefins.

14. The asymmetric membrane of claim 13, wherein the polyolefins comprise polyethylene or polypropylene.

15. The asymmetric membrane of claim 12, wherein the porous substrate comprises polyamides.

16. The asymmetric membrane of claim 1, wherein at least one of the polymerizable species comprises acrylates, (meth)acrylates, (meth)acrylamides, styrenics, allylics, vinyl ethers, or combinations thereof.

17. The asymmetric membrane of claim 1, wherein at least one of the polymerizable species comprises an ionic group.

18. The asymmetric membrane of claim 17, wherein the ionic group comprises an amine or a quaternary ammonium salt.

19. The asymmetric membrane of claim 17, wherein the ionic group comprises a carboxylic acid or a carboxylic acid salt.

20. The asymmetric membrane of claim 1, wherein the first major surface of the asymmetric membrane is hydrophilic, and the second major surface of the asymmetric membrane is hydrophobic.
Description



FIELD

[0001] The present disclosure relates to a method of forming an asymmetric membrane.

BACKGROUND

[0002] Membranes can be used in separation processes where certain species are retained and other species are allowed to pass through the membrane. Some membrane applications include, for example, use in food and beverage, pharmaceutical, medical, automotive, electronic, chemical, biotechnology, and dairy industries.

[0003] Asymmetric membranes have been described. Asymmetric membranes have been formed with the addition of photoblockers and high photoinitiator concentrations under long wavelength ultraviolet radiation sources.

SUMMARY

[0004] The present disclosure provides methods of forming asymmetric membranes.

[0005] In one aspect, a method of forming an asymmetric membrane is provided. The method includes providing a porous substrate having a first major surface and a second major surface. The method includes applying a polymerizable composition to the porous substrate providing a coated porous substrate. The polymerizable composition comprises at least one polymerizable species and at least one photoinitiator. The method includes exposing the coated porous substrate to an ultraviolet radiation source having a peak emission wavelength less than 340 nm to polymerize the polymerizable species providing an asymmetric membrane. The asymmetric membrane has a polymerized material retained within the porous substrate. The polymerized material has a concentration greater at the first major surface than at the second major surface.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

[0006] FIG. 1 is a schematic representation of a porous substrate irradiated with a long wavelength ultraviolet radiation source.

[0007] FIG. 2 is a schematic representation of a porous substrate irradiated with an ultraviolet radiation source having a peak emission wavelength less than 340 nm.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION

[0008] The recitation of numerical ranges by endpoints includes all numbers subsumed within that range (e.g., 1 to 5 includes 1, 1.5, 2, 2.75, 3, 3.8, 4, and 5).

[0009] As included in this specification and the appended claims, the singular forms "a", "an", and "the" include plural referents unless the content clearly dictates otherwise. Thus, for example, reference to a composition containing "a compound" includes a mixture of two or more compounds. As used in this specification and appended claims, the term "or" is generally employed in its sense including "and/or" unless the content clearly dictates otherwise.

[0010] Unless otherwise indicated, all numbers expressing quantities or ingredients, measurement of properties and so forth used in the specification and claims are to be understood as being modified in all instances by the term "about."

[0011] Ultraviolet radiation sources are effective for initiating and polymerizing polymerizable compositions to provide for polymerized material retained within a porous substrate. The polymerizable species of the polymerizable composition can polymerize within the pores of the porous substrate. A gradient concentration of polymerized material can be retained throughout at least a portion of the thickness of the porous substrate providing for an asymmetric membrane. In some embodiments, a low wavelength ultraviolet radiation source can be selected for delivering radiation to a coated porous substrate. The irradiance delivered to a first major surface is greater than the irradiance delivered at the second major surface. The irradiance can decrease as the radiation travels and is absorbed progressing through the thickness of the coated porous substrate. During exposure to the ultraviolet radiation source, the polymerizable composition located at the first major surface can receive a greater irradiance than the polymerizable composition at the second major surface.

[0012] The method of the present disclosure provides for a continuous process for forming high flux asymmetrical membranes relative to symmetrical membranes of the same composition. The term "asymmetric" refers to a membrane in which the pore size and structure are not the same from one side of the membrane to the other side. The pores of the asymmetric membranes are partially filled (e.g., gel-filled) with polymerized material. Irradiating one side of the coated porous substrate with an ultraviolet radiation source having a peak emission wavelength less than 340 nm under an oxygen (O.sub.2) free environment can result in an asymmetrical distribution of polymerized material retained within the porous substrate. The process can be accomplished without the addition of 1) high concentrations of photoinitiator and/or 2) photoblockers, and without the application of long wavelength radiation sources. For example, the asymmetric membranes formed herein have high flux and good salt rejections in water softening applications.

[0013] Porous substrates are materials having a network of interconnecting passages extending from one surface to the other. These interconnecting passages provide tortuous passageways through which liquids being filtered must pass.

[0014] In the method of the present disclosure, a porous substrate having a first major surface, pores (e.g., interstitial), and a second major surface can be selected from a variety of materials so long as the porous substrate is coatable (e.g., capable of having a polymerizable composition applied to at least a portion of the thickness of the substrate) or can be adapted to be coatable, and comprises openings or pores. The first major surface of the porous substrate refers to the surface in close proximity to the ultraviolet radiation source. The second major surface, or an opposing surface to the first major surface, is located at a distance greater to the ultraviolet radiation source than the distance of the first major surface to the ultraviolet radiation source.

[0015] Suitable porous substrates include, for example, films, porous membranes, woven webs, nonwoven webs, hollow fibers, and the like The porous substrate can be formed from polymeric materials, ceramic materials, and the like, or combinations thereof. Some suitable polymeric materials include, for example, polyolefins, poly(isoprenes), poly(butadienes), fluorinated polymers, polyvinyl chlorides, polyesters, polyamides, polyimides, polyethers, poly(ether sulfones), poly(sulfones), poly(ether)sulfones, polyphenylene oxides, polyphenylene sulfides, poly(vinyl acetates), copolymers of vinyl acetate, poly (phosphazenes), poly(vinyl esters), poly(vinyl ethers), poly(vinyl alcohols), poly(carbonates) and the like, or combinations thereof. Suitable polyolefins include, for example, poly(ethylene), poly(propylene), poly(1-butene), copolymers of ethylene and propylene, alpha olefin copolymers (such as copolymers of 1-butene, 1-hexene, 1-octene, and 1-decene), poly(ethylene-co-1-butene), poly(ethylene-co-1-butene-co-1-hexene), and the like, or combinations thereof. Suitable fluorinated polymers include, for example, poly(vinyl fluoride), poly(vinylidene fluoride), copolymers of vinylidene fluoride (such as poly(vinylidene fluoride-co-hexafluoropropylene)), copolymers of chlorotrifluoroethylene (such as poly(ethylene-co-chlorotrifluoroethylene)), and the like, or combinations thereof. Suitable polyamides include, for example, poly(imino(1-oxohexamethylene)), poly(iminoadipoylimino hexamethylene), poly(iminoadipoyliminodecamethylene), polycaprolactam, and the like, or combinations thereof. Suitable polyimides include, for example, poly(pyromellitimide), and the like. Suitable poly(ether sulfone)s include, for example, poly(diphenylether sulfone), poly(diphenylsulfone-co-diphenylene oxide sulfone), and the like, or combinations thereof.

[0016] In some embodiments, the porous substrate can have an average pore size less than about 10 micrometers. In other embodiments, the average pore size of the porous substrate can be less than about 5 micrometers, less than about 2 micrometers, or less than about 1 micrometer. In other embodiments, the average pore size of the porous substrate can be greater than about 10 nanometers. In some embodiments, the average pore size of the porous substrate is greater than about 50 nanometers, greater than about 100 nanometers, or greater than about 200 nanometers. In some embodiments, the porous substrate can have an average pore size in a range of about 10 nanometers to about 10 micrometers, in a range of about 50 nanometers to about 5 micrometers, in a range of about 100 nanometers to about 2 micrometers, or in a range of about 200 nanometers to about 1 micrometer.

[0017] Some suitable porous substrates include, for example, nanoporous membranes, microporous membranes, microporous nonwoven webs, microporous woven webs, microporous fibers, and the like. In some embodiments, the porous substrate can have a combination of different pore sizes (e.g., micropores, nanopores, and the like). In one embodiment, the porous substrate is microporous. In some embodiments, the porous substrate can comprise a particulate or a plurality of particulates.

[0018] The thickness of the porous substrate selected can depend on the intended application of the membrane. Generally, the thickness of the porous substrate can be greater than about 10 micrometers. In some embodiments, the thickness of the porous substrate can be greater than about 1,000 micrometers, or greater than about 10,000 micrometers.

[0019] In some embodiments, the porous substrate is hydrophobic. In another embodiment, the porous substrate is hydrophilic. The porous substrate either being hydrophobic or hydrophilic can be coated with a polymerizable composition and exposed to an ultraviolet radiation source as described below.

[0020] In some embodiments, the porous substrate comprises a microporous, thermally-induced phase separation (TIPS) membrane. TIPS membranes can be prepared by forming a solution of a thermoplastic material and a second material above the melting point of the thermoplastic material. Upon cooling, the thermoplastic material crystallizes and phase separates from the second material. The crystallized material can be stretched. The second material can be optionally removed either before or after stretching. TIPS membranes are disclosed in U.S. Pat. No. 1,529,256 (Kelley); U.S. Pat. No. 4,726,989 (Mrozinski); U.S. Pat. No. 4,867,881 (Kinzer); U.S. Pat. No. 5,120,594 (Mrozinski); U.S. Pat. No. 5,260,360 (Mrozinski); U.S. Pat. No. 5,962,544 (Waller, Jr.); and U.S. Pat. No. 4,539,256 (Shipman). In some embodiments, TIPS membranes comprise polymeric materials such as poly(vinylidene fluoride) (i.e., PVDF), polyolefins such as poly(ethylene) or poly(propylene), vinyl-containing polymers or copolymers such as ethylene-vinyl alcohol copolymers and butadiene-containing polymers or copolymers, and acrylate-containing polymers or copolymers. TIPS membranes comprising PVDF are further described in U.S. Patent Application Publication No. 2005/0058821 (Smith et al.)

[0021] In some embodiments, the porous substrate can be a nonwoven web having an average pore size that is typically greater than about 10 micrometers. Suitable nonwoven webs include, for example, melt-blown microfiber nonwoven webs described in Wente, V. A., "Superfine Thermoplastic Fibers"; Industrial Engineering Chemistry, 48, 1342-1346 (1956), and Wente, V. A., "Manufacture of Super Fine Organic Fibers"; Naval Research Laboratories (Report No. 4364) May 25, 1954. In some embodiments, suitable nonwoven webs can be prepared from nylon.

[0022] Some examples of suitable porous substrates include commercially available materials such as hydrophilic and hydrophobic microporous membranes known under the trade designations DURAPORE and MILLIPORE EXPRESS MEMBRANE, available from Millipore Corporation of Billerica, Mass. Other suitable commercial microporous membranes known under the trade designations NYLAFLO and SUPOR are available from Pall Corporation of East Hills, N.Y.

[0023] In the method of the present disclosure, a polymerizable species is applied to the porous substrate. The term "polymerizable composition" generally refers to compositions having at least one polymerizable species, and at least one photoinitiator. The polymerizable species can be polymerized on the first major surface, within the pores or at least a portion of the pores, or on the second major surface of the porous substrate when exposed to an ultraviolet radiation source having a peak emission wavelength of less than 340 nm. The photoinitator selected for initiating the polymerization of the polymeric species can selectively absorb radiation from the ultraviolet radiation sources. In some embodiments, the polymerizable composition applied to the porous substrate doesn't require a photoinitiator as described in U.S. Pat. No. 5,891,530 (Wright). The polymerizable composition can be applied to at least a portion of the thickness of the porous substrate. The polymerizable species of the polymerizable composition, after exposure to the ultraviolet radiation source, can form polymerized material extending through at least a portion of the thickness of the porous substrate. The resulting polymerized material can reside on the first major surface, the second major surface, and within the porous substrate by chemical or physical interactions. In some embodiments, the polymerized material can graft onto the surfaces of the porous substrate. In another embodiment, the polymerized material can reside within and on the surfaces of the pores of the porous substrate through hydrogen bonding, Van der Waals interactions, ionic bonding, and the like.

[0024] The photoinitiator of the polymerizable composition can initiate polymerization of the polymerizable species. The polymerizable composition can comprise about 0.001 to about 5.0 weight percent photoinitiator. Some suitable photoinitiators can include, for example, organic compounds, organometallic compounds, inorganic compounds, and the like. Some examples of free radical photoinitiators include, for example, benzoin and its derivatives, benzyl ketals, acetophenone, acetophenone derivatives, benzophenone, and benzophenone derivatives, acyl phosphine oxides, and the like, or combinations thereof. In some embodiments, some photoinitiators (e.g., acyl phosphine oxides) can absorb long wavelength ultraviolet radiation, short wavelength ultraviolet radiation, and the like or combinations thereof.

[0025] Exemplary photoinitiators for initiating free-radical polymerization of (meth)acrylates, for example, include benzoin and its derivatives such as alpha-methylbenzoin; alpha-phenylbenzoin; alpha-allylbenzoin; alpha-benzylbenzoin; benzoin ethers such as benzil dimethyl ketal (available, for example, under the trade designation IRGACURE 651 from Ciba Specialty Chemicals, Tarrytown, N.Y.), benzoin methyl ether, benzoin ethyl ether, benzoin n-butyl ether; acetophenone and its derivatives such as 2-hydroxy-2-methyl-1-phenyl-1-propanone (available, for example, under the trade designation DAROCUR 1173 from Ciba Specialty Chemicals) and 1-hydroxycyclohexyl phenyl ketone (available, for example, under the trade designation IRGACURE 184 from Ciba Specialty Chemicals); 2-methyl-1-[4-(methylthio)phenyl]-2-(4-morpholinyl)-1-propanone (available, for example, under the trade designation IRGACURE 907 from Ciba Specialty Chemicals); 2-benzyl-2-(dimethlamino)-1-[4-(4-morpholinyl)phenyl]-1-butanone (available, for example, as IRGACURE 369 from Ciba Specialty Chemicals). Other useful photoinitiators include pivaloin ethyl ether, anisoin ethyl ether; anthraquinones, such as anthraquinone, 2-ethylanthraquinone, 1-chloroanthraquinone, 1,4-dimethylanthraquinone, 1-methoxyanthraquinone, benzanthraquinonehalomethyltriazines; benzophenone and its derivatives; iodonium salts and sulfonium salts as described hereinabove; titanium complexes such as bis(eta.sub.5-2,4-cyclopentadien-1-yl)bis[2,6-difluoro-3-(1H-pyrrol-1-yl)- phenyl]titanium (obtained under the trade designation CGI 784 DC, also from Ciba Specialty Chemicals); halomethylnitrobenzenes such as, for example, 4-bromomethylnitrobenzene; mono- and bis-acylphosphines (available, for example, from Ciba Specialty Chemicals as IRGACURE 1700, IRGACURE 1800, IRGACURE 1850, and DAROCUR 4265).

[0026] The photoiniator of the polymerizable composition can be selected to initiate polymerization of the polymerizable species throughout at least a portion of the thickness of the porous substrate. The thickness of the porous substrate extends from the first major surface to the second major surface. The photoinitiator can initiate polymerization of the polymerizable species upon exposure to the ultraviolet radiation source at the first major surface, and can extend through a portion of the thickness of the porous substrate. The initiation of polymerizable species for forming polymerized material can decrease through the thickness to the second major surface.

[0027] Polymerizable species (e.g., monomers) of the polymerizable composition can polymerize by many polymerization routes. In particular, the polymerizable species can attach to another polymerizable species by chemical bonding (e.g., free radical reaction) to form a covalent bond through known polymerization procedures. Upon polymerizing the polymerizable species of the coated porous substrate when contacted with an ultraviolet radiation source can form an asymmetric membrane. The surface properties of the porous substrate before being coated with the polymerizable composition can be different than the surface properties of the asymmetric membrane described herein. Similarly, the asymmetric membrane having functional groups can have different major surface properties than that of the porous substrate. For example, the addition of polymerized material to the porous substrate can provide for reactive surfaces when contacted by other species, for example, by interactions including hydrogen bonding, Van der Waals interactions, ionic bonding, and the like.

[0028] In some embodiments, the polymerizable species of the polymerizable composition can be a monomer having a free-radically polymerizable group. In some embodiments, the polymerizable species may comprise a free-radically polymerizable group and an additional functional group thereon. The free-radically polymerizable group can be an ethylenically unsaturated group such as a (meth)acryloyl group, an acryoyl group, or a vinyl group. The free-radically polymerizable group, after initiation by a photoinitiator, can polymerize within the porous substrate forming a polymerized material upon exposure to the ultraviolet radiation source. The reaction of the free-radically polymerizable groups of the polymerizable species with other polymerizable species of the coated porous substrate upon exposure to ultraviolet radiation can result in the formation of a greater concentration of the polymerized material at the first major surface and within the openings or pores nearest the first major surface than at the second major surface of the asymmetric membrane.

[0029] In addition to having a free-radically polymerizable group, polymerizable species can contain a second or additional functional group. In some embodiments, the second functional group is selected from a second ethylenically unsaturated group, ring opening groups (e.g., epoxy group, an azlactone group, and an aziridine group), an isocyanato group, an ionic group, an alkylene oxide group, or combinations thereof. The second or additional functional group of the polymerizable species can provide for further reactivity or affinity of the polymerized material retained within the porous substrate. In some embodiments, the additional functional group can react to form a linking group between the porous substrate and other material such as other species or nucleophilic compounds having at least one nucleophilic group.

[0030] The presence of an additional functional group can impart a desired surface property to the asymmetric membrane such as an affinity for a particular type of compound. In some embodiments, the polymerizable species can contains an ionic group such that the asymmetric membrane containing polymerized material can often have an affinity for compounds having an opposite charge. That is, compounds with negatively charged groups can be attracted to an asymmetric membrane having polymerized material with a cationic group and compounds with positively charged groups can be attracted to a an asymmetric membrane having polymerized material with an anionic group. Further, the choice of polymerized material can impart a hydrophilic property to at least one major surface of the asymmetric membrane that was hydrophobic prior to surface modification by the polymerizable composition. In one embodiment, the polymerized material containing an alkylene oxide group can impart hydrophilic character to the asymmetric membrane.

[0031] In still other embodiments, suitable polymerizable species of the polymerizable composition can have a free-radically polymerizable group that is an ethylenically unsaturated group and an additional functional group that is an ionic group. The ionic group can have a positive charge, a negative charge, or a combination thereof. With some suitable ionic species, the ionic group can be neutral or charged depending on the pH conditions. This class of species is typically used to impart a desired surface affinity for one or more oppositely charged compounds or to decrease the affinity for one or more similarly charged compounds.

[0032] In still other embodiments, suitable ionic polymerizable species having a negative charge include (meth)acrylamidosulfonic acids of Formula I or salts thereof

##STR00001##

In Formula I, R.sup.1 is hydrogen or methyl; and Y is a straight or branched alkylene (e.g., alkylenes having 1 to 10 carbon atoms, 1 to 6 carbon atoms, or 1 to 4 carbon atoms). Exemplary ionic species according to Formula I include, but are not limited to, N-acrylamidomethanesulfonic acid, 2-acrylamidoethanesulfonic acid, 2-acrylamido-2-methyl-1-propanesulfonic acid, and 2-methacrylamido-2-methyl-1-propanesulfonic acid. Salts of these acidic species can also be used. Counter ions for the salts can be, for example, ammonium ions, potassium ions, lithium ions, or sodium ions.

[0033] Other suitable ionic polymerizable species having a negative charge include sulfonic acids such as vinylsulfonic acid and 4-styrenesulfonic acid; (meth)acrylamidophosphonic acids such as (meth)acrylamidoalkylphosphonic acids (e.g., 2-acrylamidoethylphosphonic acid and 3-methacrylamidopropylphosphonic acid); acrylic acid and methacrylic acid; and carboxyalkyl(meth)acrylates such as 2-carboxyethylacrylate, 2-carboxyethylmethacrylate, 3-carboxypropylacrylate, and 3-carboxypropylmethacrylate. Still other suitable acidic species include (meth)acryloylamino as described in U.S. Pat. No. 4,157,418 (Heilmann et al). Exemplary (meth)acryloylamino acids include, but are not limited to, N-acryloylglycine, N-acryloylaspartic acid, N-acryloyl-.beta.-alanine, and 2-acrylamidoglycolic acid. Salts of any of these acidic species can also be used.

[0034] Other ionic polymerizable species that are capable of providing a positive charge are amino (meth)acrylates or amino (meth)acrylamides of Formula II or quaternary ammonium salts thereof. The counter ions of the quaternary ammonium salts are often halides, sulfates, phosphates, nitrates, and the like.

##STR00002##

[0035] In Formula II, R.sup.1 is hydrogen or methyl; L is oxy or --NH--; and Y is an alkylene (e.g., an alkylene having 1 to 10 carbon atoms, 1 to 6, or 1 to 4 carbon atoms). Each R.sup.2 is independently hydrogen, alkyl, hydroxyalkyl (i.e., an alkyl substituted with a hydroxy), or aminoalkyl (i.e., an alkyl substituted with an amino). Alternatively, the two R.sup.2 groups taken together with the nitrogen atom to which they are attached can form a heterocyclic group that is aromatic, partially unsaturated (i.e., unsaturated but not aromatic), or saturated, wherein the heterocyclic group can optionally be fused to a second ring that is aromatic (e.g., benzene), partially unsaturated (e.g., cyclohexene), or saturated (e.g., cyclohexane).

[0036] In some embodiments of Formula II, both R.sup.2 groups are hydrogen. In other embodiments, one R.sup.2 group is hydrogen and the other is an alkyl having 1 to 10, 1 to 6, or 1 to 4 carbon atoms. In still other embodiments, at least one of R.sup.2 groups is a hydroxy alkyl or an amino alkyl that have 1 to 10, 1 to 6, or 1 to 4 carbon atoms with the hydroxy or amino group being positioned on any of the carbon atoms of the alkyl group. In yet other embodiments, the R.sup.2 groups combine with the nitrogen atom to which they are attached to form a heterocyclic group. The heterocyclic group includes at least one nitrogen atom and can contain other heteroatoms such as oxygen or sulfur. Exemplary heterocyclic groups include, but are not limited to imidazolyl. The heterocyclic group can be fused to an additional ring such as a benzene, cyclohexene, or cyclohexane. Exemplary heterocyclic groups fused to an additional ring include, but are not limited to, benzoimidazolyl.

[0037] Exemplary amino (meth)acrylates (i.e., L in Formula II is oxy) include, for example, N,N-dialkylaminoalkyl(meth)acrylates such as, for example, N,N-dimethylaminoethylmethacrylate, N,N-dimethylaminoethylacrylate, N,N-diethylaminoethylmethacylate, N,N-diethylaminoethylacrylate, N,N-dimethylaminopropylmethacrylate, N,N-dimethylaminopropylacrylate, N-tert-butylaminopropylmethacrylate, N-tert-butylaminopropylacrylate and the like.

[0038] Exemplary amino (meth)acrylamides (i.e., L in Formula II is --NH--) include, for example, N-(3-aminopropyl)methacrylamide, N-(3-aminopropyl)acrylamide, N-[3-(dimethylamino)propyl]methacrylamide, N-(3-imidazolylpropyl)methacrylamide, N-(3-imidazolylpropyl)acrylamide, N-(2-imidazolylethyl)methacrylamide, N-(1,1-dimethyl-3-imidazoylpropyl)methacrylamide, N-(1,1-dimethyl-3-imidazoylpropyl)acrylamide, N-(3-benzoimidazolylpropyl)acrylamide, and N-(3-benzoimidazolylpropyl)methacrylamide.

[0039] Exemplary quaternary salts of the ionic species of Formula II include, but are not limited to, (meth)acrylamidoalkyltrimethylammonium salts (e.g., 3-methacrylamidopropyltrimethylammonium chloride and 3-acrylamidopropyltrimethylammonium chloride) and (meth)acryloxyalkyltrimethylammonium salts (e.g., 2-acryloxyethyltrimethylammonium chloride, 2-methacryloxyethyltrimethylammonium chloride, 3-methacryloxy-2-hydroxypropyltrimethylammonium chloride, 3-acryloxy-2-hydroxypropyltrimethylammonium chloride, and 2-acryloxyethyltrimethylammonium methyl sulfate).

[0040] Other polymerizable species can be selected from those known to provide positively charged groups, for example, to an ion exchange resin. Such polymerizable species include, for example, the dialkylaminoalkylamine adducts of alkenylazlactones (e.g., 2-(diethylamino)ethylamine, (2-aminoethyl)trimethylammonium chloride, and 3-(dimethylamino)propylamine adducts of vinyldimethylazlactone) and diallylamine species (e.g., diallylammonium chloride and diallyldimethylammonium chloride).

[0041] In some methods for making an asymmetric membrane, suitable polymerizable species can have two free-radically polymerizable groups as well as a hydrophilic group. For example, alkylene glycol di(meth)acrylates can be used as polymerizable species to impart hydrophilic character to a hydrophobic porous substrate. These polymerizable species have two (meth)acryloyl groups and a hydrophilic polyalkylene glycol (i.e., polyalkylene oxide) group.

[0042] When the membrane has polymerizable species that contains an epoxy group, an azlactone group, or an isocyanato group, the asymmetric membrane can be further treated such that the functional groups can react with a nucleophilic compound having a one or a plurality of nucleophilic groups to impart a hydrophilic character to a hydrophobic porous substrate. Unreacted nucleophilic groups can contribute to forming a hydrophilic functionalized membrane. Some exemplary nucleophilic compounds contain a hydrophilic group such as a polyalkylene oxide group in addition to the nucleophilic group. For example, the nucleophilic compound such as polyalkylene glycol diamines and polyalkylene glycol triamines can include a plurality of amino groups.

[0043] Polymerizable compositions of the present disclosure can be prepared, for example, as a coatable solution, dispersion, emulsion, and the like. The polymerizable compositions can be applied to the first major surface, interstitial pores, and the second major surface of the porous substrate. In some examples, the porous substrate can be saturated or immersed with a polymerizable composition comprising at least one polymerizable species and at least one photoinitiator effective for coating the first major surface, interstitial pores and the second major surface. The concentration of the polymerizable species, for example, can vary depending on a number of factors including, but not limited to, the polymerizable species, the extent of polymerization or crosslinking of the polymerizable species on and within the porous substrate, the reactivity of the polymerizable species, the crosslinker concentration, or the solvent used. In some embodiments, the concentration of the polymerizable species of the polymerizable composition can be in a range of about 2 weight percent to about 99.9 weight percent.

[0044] In some embodiments, the polymerizable composition further comprises a solvent. In one aspect, the polymerizable composition further comprises a crosslinker.

[0045] In one embodiment, the porous substrate can have a hydrophilic surface prior to contacting the polymerizable composition. After contacting the polymerizable composition with an ultraviolet radiation source having a peak emission wavelength less than 340 nm, the hydrophobic surface can impart a hydrophobic property to at least one surface of the asymmetric membrane.

[0046] In some embodiments, the polymerizable species of the polymerizable composition have a free-radically polymerizable group that is a first ethylenically unsaturated group and a second functional group that is a second ethylenically unsaturated group. In one embodiment, the polymerizable species is a crosslinker suitable for crosslinking the polymerizable species forming a network or gelled polymerized material. Suitable polymerizable species having two ethylenically unsaturated groups include, but are not limited to, polyalkylene glycol di(meth)acrylates. The term polyalkylene glycol di(meth)acrylate is used interchangeably with the term polyalkylene oxide di(meth)acrylate. The term "(meth)acryl" as in (meth)acrylate is used to encompass both acryl groups as in acrylates and methacryl groups as in methacrylates. Exemplary polyalkylene glycol di(meth)acrylates include polyethylene glycol di(meth)acrylate species and polypropylene glycol di(meth)acrylate species. Polyethylene glycol diacrylate species having an average molecular weight of about 400 g/mole is commercially available, for example, under the trade designation SR344 and polyethylene glycol dimethacrylate species having an average molecular weight of about 400 g/mole is commercially available under the trade designation SR603 from Sartomer Company, Incorporated of Exton, Pa.

[0047] In some embodiments, suitable polymerizable species have a free-radically polymerizable group that is a first ethylenically unsaturated group and an additional functional group that is an epoxy group. Suitable polymerizable species within this class include, but are not limited to, glycidyl (meth)acrylates. This class of polymerizable species can provide a functionalized asymmetric membrane having at least one epoxy group available for further reactivity. The epoxy group can react with other reactants such as with another species or with a nucleophilic compound to impart a desired surface property to the porous substrate (e.g., affinity for a particular compound or functional group having different reactivity). The reaction of the epoxy group with a nucleophilic compound, for example, results in the opening of the epoxy ring and the formation of a linkage group that functions to tether the nucleophilic compound to the porous substrate. Suitable nucleophilic groups for reacting with epoxy groups include, but are not limited to, primary amino groups, secondary amino groups, and carboxy groups. The nucleophilic compound can contain more than one nucleophilic group that can crosslink multiple epoxy groups or more than one optional groups that can impart hydrophilic character to the functionalized membrane. The linkage group formed by ring-opening of the epoxy group often contains the group --C(OH)HCH.sub.2NH-- when the epoxy is reacted with a primary amino group or --C(OH)HCH.sub.2O(CO)-- when the epoxy is reacted with a carboxy group.

[0048] In some instances, the epoxy groups of the polymerized material within the porous substrate can be reacted with a multifunctional amine such as a diamine having two primary amino groups or a triamine having three primary amino groups. One of the amino groups can undergo a ring opening reaction with the epoxy group and result in the formation of a linkage group that contains the group --C(OH)HCH.sub.2NH-between the nucleophilic compound and the porous substrate. The second amino group or the second and third amino groups can impart a hydrophilic character to the asymmetric membrane or can crosslink two or more polymerizable species by reacting with one or more additional epoxy groups. In some examples, the multifunctional amine is a polyalkylene glycol diamine or polyalkylene glycol triamine and reaction with an epoxy group results in the attachment of a polymerized material having a polyalkylene glycol group (i.e., polyalkylene oxide group). The polyalkylene glycol group as well as any terminal primary amino group tends to impart hydrophilic character to the asymmetric membrane.

[0049] In still other embodiments, suitable polymerizable species have a free-radically polymerizable group that is an ethylenically unsaturated group and an additional functional group that is an azlactone group. Suitable polymerizable species include, but are not limited to, vinyl azlactone such as 2-vinyl-4,4-dimethylazlactone. This class of polymerizable species can provide an asymmetric membrane having at least one azlactone group available for further reactivity. The azlactone group can react with other reactants such as another species or with a nucleophilic compound to impart a desired surface property to the porous substrate (e.g., affinity for a particular compound or functional group having different reactivity). The reaction of the azlactone group with a nucleophilic compound, for example, results in the opening of the azlactone ring and the formation of a linkage group that functions to attach the nucleophilic compound to the porous substrate. The nucleophilic compound typically contains at least one nucleophilic group. Suitable nucleophilic groups for reacting with an azlactone group include, but are not limited to, primary amino groups, secondary amino groups and hydroxy groups. The nucleophilic compound can contain additional nucleophilic groups that can crosslink multiple azlactone groups or can contain other optional groups that can impart a hydrophilic character to the asymmetric membrane. The linkage group formed by ring-opening of the azlactone group often contains the group --(CO)NHCR.sub.2(CO)-- where R is an alkyl such as methyl and (CO) denotes a carbonyl.

[0050] In some instances, the azlactone groups can be reacted with a multifunctional amine such as a diamine having two primary amino groups or a triamine having three primary amino groups.

[0051] One of the amino groups can undergo a ring opening reaction with the azlactone group and result in the formation of a linkage containing the group --(CO)NHCR.sub.2(CO)-- between the nucleophilic compound and the porous substrate. The second amino group or second and third amino groups can impart a hydrophilic character to the asymmetric membrane or can crosslink multiple polymerizable species. In some examples, the multifunctional amine is a polyalkylene glycol diamine or a polyalkylene glycol triamine and reaction with an azlactone group results in the attachment of a polymerizable species having a polyalkylene glycol group (i.e., polyalkylene oxide group). The polyalkylene glycol group as well as any terminal primary amino group tends to impart a hydrophilic character to the asymmetric membrane.

[0052] In still other embodiments, suitable polymerizable species can have a free-radically polymerizable group that is an ethylenically unsaturated group and an additional functional group that is an isocyanato group. Some suitable polymerizable species include, but are not limited to an isocyanatoalkyl (meth)acrylate such as 2-isocyanatoethyl methacrylate and 2-isocyanatoethyl acrylate. This class of polymerizable species can provide an asymmetric membrane having at least one isocyanato group available for reactivity. The isocyanato group can react with other reactants such as another species or with a nucleophilic compound to impart a desired surface property to the asymmetric membrane (e.g., affinity for a particular compound or functional group having different reactivity). The reaction of an isocyanato group with a nucleophilic compound can result in the formation of a urea linkage if the nucleophilic group is a primary amino or secondary amino group or in the formation of a urethane linkage if the nucleophilic group is a hydroxy group. The nucleophilic compound can contain additional nucleophilic groups that can crosslink multiple isocyanato groups or can contain other optional groups that can impart a hydrophilic character to the asymmetric membrane. The linkage group formed by reaction of a nucleophilic compound with an isocyanato group often contains the group --NH(CO)NH-- when the nucleophilic group is a primary amino group or --NH(CO)O-- when the nucleophilic group is a hydroxy.

[0053] In some embodiments, the polymerizable species can comprise unreactive pendent groups. The polymerized material can be retained within the pores due to physical entanglements.

[0054] In some embodiments, the polymerizable composition further comprises a crosslinker to gel or form a network of polymerized material within the porous substrate. The crosslinker can be added to crosslink a portion of the polymerizable species, or to substantially crosslink most or all of the polymerizable species.

[0055] Crosslinkers (e.g., crosslinking materials) of the polymerizable composition can include difunctional and polyfunctional acrylate and methacrylate free radically polymerizable monomers. Some examples of crosslinkers can include, for example, ester derivatives of alkyl diols, triols, and tetrols (e.g., 1,4-butanediol diacrylate, 1,6-hexanediol diacrylate, trimethylolpropane triacrylate, and pentaerythritol triacrylate). Some other difunctional and polyfunctional acrylate and methacrylate monomers have been described in U.S. Pat. No. 4,379,201 (Heilmann et al.). In some embodiments, difunctional and polyfunctional acrylate monomers include, for example 1,2-ethanediol diacrylate, 1,12-dodecanediol diacrylate, pentaerythritol tetracrylate, and the like, or combinations thereof. Difunctional and polyfunctional acrylates and methacrylates can include acrylated epoxy oligomers, acrylated aliphatic urethane oligomers, acrylated polyether oligomers, and acrylated polyester oligomers such as those commercially available under the trade designation EBECRYL from CYTEC SURFACE SPECIALTIES of Smyrna, Ga. Examples of other commercially available monomers as described above are available from Sartomer of Exton, Pa.

[0056] The polymerizable composition is applied to the porous substrate so as to coat, soak, wet, or immerse the porous substrate to provide a coated porous substrate. The polymerizable composition can be applied to the porous substrate having a thickness extending from a first major surface to a second major surface of the porous substrate. The polymerizable composition can be applied to the porous substrate to wet or penetrate into at least one micrometer of the thickness extending from the first major surface. In some embodiments, the polymerizable composition can wet or penetrate through the entire thickness of the porous substrate. In some embodiments, the porous substrate can be immersed with the polymerizable species. "Immersed" or "saturated" generally refers to the polymerizable composition being delivered to the first major surface, to the interconnecting pores within the thickness of the porous substrate, and to the second major surface. In some embodiments, the polymerizable composition can wet the surfaces of the pores throughout the thickness of the porous substrate to include wetting the first and second major surfaces. Suitable methods for applying the polymerizable species to the porous substrate include, for example, saturation or immersion techniques, spray coating, curtain coating, slide coating, flood coating, die coating, roll coating, deposition, or by other known coating or application methods. The polymerizable composition to be applied to the porous substrate generally has a viscosity such that the first major surface, the second major surface and the pores of the porous substrate can be coated. The viscosity of the polymerizable species can be altered dependent on the application method chosen to receive the polymerizable composition.

[0057] After the polymerizable composition has been applied to the porous substrate, the coated porous substrate can be exposed to an ultraviolet radiation source having a peak emission wavelength less than 340 nm to initiate and polymerize the polymerizable species of the polymerizable composition. The ultraviolet radiation source selected for forming asymmetric membranes can depend on the intended processing conditions, and the appropriate energy source required for activating the photoinitiator present in the polymerizable composition for providing a gradient concentration of polymerized material through the thickness of the porous substrate. Similarly, other considerations for selecting the ultraviolet radiation source can include the amount and type of polymerizable species, crosslinker, and related materials present in the polymerizable composition, the ultraviolet radiation source used for activating the photoinitiator to polymerizing the polymerizable species, the speed of the moving web (e.g., multilayer structure) for a continuous process, the distance of the porous substrate from the ultraviolet radiation source, and the thickness of the porous substrate.

[0058] A variety of ultraviolet (UV) radiation sources can be used to prepare the asymmetric membranes of the present disclosure. Suitable sources include low and medium-pressure mercury arc lamps, electrodeless mercury lamps, light emitting diodes, mercury-xenon lamps, lasers and any other sources having some spectral output in the region less than 340 nm. Available ultraviolet radiation sources can be broadband, narrowband or monochromatic. When broadband ultraviolet radiation sources are used, filters can be applied to narrow the spectral output to a specific spectral region such that the peak intensity (e.g., emission) occurs at a wavelength less than 340 nm, thus eliminating longer wavelengths that can be detrimental to the rewettable asymmetric membrane forming process. Suitable ultraviolet radiation sources are not restricted by power and can be pulsed or continuous sources. Some of these radiation sources may or may not contain mercury. Preferred ultraviolet radiation sources can be those that have relatively low IR (infrared) emissions that generally require no special cooling requirements. Dichroic reflectors (cold mirrors) and/or dichroic front windows (hot mirrors), and/or water jackets and other methods know to those skilled in the art can be used to help control the IR emissions from the ultraviolet radiation source.

[0059] In some embodiments, narrow bandwidth UV sources can be selected for which the UV radiation output spans a range of no more than about 50-100 nm. One example of a narrow bandwidth UV radiation source includes, for example, fluorescent ultraviolet lamps, which can operate without special filters and have low IR emissions. In a preferred embodiment, monochromatic or substantially monochromatic UV radiation sources such as excimer lamps, lasers, light emitting diodes, and germicidal lamps are used. These sources have greater than 95% of their spectral output confined to a region spanning no more than about 20-30 nm. Some examples of excimer lamps include a XeCl excimer lamp having a peak emission at 308 nm, a KrCl excimer lamp having a peak emission at 222 nm, a Xe.sub.2 excimer lamp having a peak emission at 172 nm and a germicidal lamp having a peak emission at 254 nm. Substantially monochromatic lamps providing UV radiation output within a narrow spectral range and having low IR output are generally preferred. These lamps can allow for more control in forming a gradient of polymerized material within the copolymer retained within a rewettable asymmetric membrane and are commercially available. Such sources are well known in the art. An ultraviolet radiation source can be a single source or a plurality of sources. Similarly, the plurality of ultraviolet radiation sources can be of the same source or of a combination of different ultraviolet radiation sources.

[0060] Low and high power ultraviolet radiation sources (e.g., lamps) can be useful for forming rewettable asymmetric membranes. Lamp power can be expressed in watts/inch (W/in) based on the length of the lamp. For example, a high power lamp such as a 600 W/in electrodeless "H" bulb (Fusion UV Systems, Inc., Gaithersburg, Md.) is a 10-inch long medium-pressure mercury bulb that can be excited by microwave energy. At full power, the 10 inch lamp requires a power supply rated at 6000 W to deliver power of 600 W/in. Such high power lamps can generate copious amounts of UV radiation, but operate at lamp surface temperatures exceeding 700.degree. C. such that the ultraviolet output is accompanied by significant IR emissions. In contrast, a low power fluorescent UV lamp can operate at a typical power of 1-2 W/in, and requires less power to operate having a surface temperature of about 43.degree. C. to 49.degree. C.

[0061] When exposing the coated porous substrate, the peak irradiance is greater than 0 mW/cm.sup.2 and can extend up to about 100 mW/cm.sup.2 or greater in the spectral region of the peak ultraviolet intensity and the spectral output must overlap with at least a portion of the absorption spectrum of the photoinitiator.

[0062] The UV spectrum is split into four primary spectral regions known as UVA, UVB, UVC and VUV, which are commonly defined as 315-400 nm, 280-315 nm, 200-280 nm and 100-200 nm, respectively. The wavelength ranges cited herein are somewhat arbitrarily established, and may not correspond to the exact wavelength ranges published by radiometer manufacturers for defining the four primary spectral regions. Furthermore, some radiometer manufacturers specify that a UVV range (395-445 nm) that spans the transition from UV to visible radiation.

[0063] In some instances, high power UV radiation sources can be employed These sources can have a peak irradiance of more than about 1 W/cm.sup.2 accompanied by significant IR emissions. More preferred ultraviolet radiation sources can comprise an array of germicidal or fluorescent bulbs providing a peak UV irradiance in the range from about 1-2 .mu.W/cm.sup.2 to 10-20 mW/cm.sup.2. The peak irradiance from an array or a plurality of microwave-driven fluorescent lamps commercially available from Quantum Technologies of Irvine, Calif., can be as high as 50 mW/cm.sup.2. The actual irradiance from an array of lamps can depend on a number of factors which include the electrical voltage, the lamp's power rating, the lamp spacing within an array or plurality of lamps, the reflector(s) type (if present), the age of the individual lamps, the transmission spectrum of any windows or films through which the UV radiation must pass, the specific radiometer used and its spectral responsivity, and the distance of the array of lamps from the membrane.

[0064] The porous substrate can be exposed to the ultraviolet radiation source for a period of time (e.g., exposure time) for polymerizing the polymerizable composition to form the asymmetric membrane. Some exposure times can range from less than a second at high irradiance (>1 W/cm.sup.2) to several seconds up to several minutes or longer at a low irradiance (<50 mW/cm.sup.2). The total UV energy exposure to the porous substrate can be determined by the UV source irradiance and the exposure time. For example, an array of fluorescent or germicidal bulbs can be used to expose the porous substrate to UV radiation. The total UV energy within the spectral range associated with the peak lamp output can be from about 100 mJ/cm.sup.2 to more than about 4000 mJ/cm.sup.2, from about 200 mJ/cm.sup.2 to about 3000 mJ/cm.sup.2, from about 300 mJ/cm.sup.2 to about 2500 mJ/cm.sup.2, or from about 400 mJ/cm.sup.2 to about 2000 mJ/cm.sup.2.

[0065] The rewettable asymmetric membrane of the present disclosure can be prepared such that a gradient concentration of polymerized material extends from the first major surface through at least a portion of the thickness of the porous substrate to the second major surface. Upon exposure to the ultraviolet radiation source, the photoinitiator residing at the first major surface can be exposed to a greater peak irradiance of UV radiation. The higher peak irradiance at the first major surface can result in a higher rate of initiation at the first major surface and within the pores at the first major surface. As the irradiance travels into the thickness of the porous substrate, the peak irradiance decreases, thus reducing the amount of photoinitiator decomposition and hence, polymerization within the pores of the substrate. A gradient concentration of polymerized material can be formed resulting from inner filter effects. The inner filter effects can occur when certain wavelengths are selectively filtered out by absorbing species (e.g. photoinitiators, porous substrate, or combinations thereof) as the ultraviolet radiation penetrates the thickness of the porous substrate. These wavelengths are effectively removed or diminished. As the UV radiation penetrates further into or through the porous substrate, the wavelength distribution of the radiation impinging on the surface can be changed resulting from the absorption of certain wavelengths. At greater depths within the porous substrate, insufficient ultraviolet radiation of the prescribed wavelength region can be available to efficiently excite the photoinitiator. The extent of polymerization of the polymerizable species can decrease rapidly forming a gradient concentration of polymerized material within the thickness of the porous substrate.

[0066] The sharpness of the gradient concentration of polymerized material can be determined by the absorbance of the porous substrate at the wavelengths of the incident UV radiation. When sources other than substantially monochromatic sources are utilized, the absorbance is uncertain because absorbance is wavelength dependent. However, when substantially monochromatic sources are used, the absorbance (Beer-Lambert Law and measured using a UV-Visible spectrophotometer) at the peak wavelength of the radiation source through a film of the polymerizable composition at a thickness comparable to the membrane thickness should be greater than 0.3, greater than 0.4, greater than 0.5 or greater than 0.6. In some embodiments, the absorbance can be greater than 1.0 or even greater than 2.0 and as high as 10 or even 20.

[0067] The coated porous substrate selected for exposure to the ultraviolet radiation source having a peak emission wavelength less than 340 nm can have a thickness greater than about 10 micrometers. In some embodiments, the thickness of the coated porous substrate can be greater than about 1,000 micrometers, or greater than about 10,000 micrometers. The polymerizable composition can saturate or immerse the porous substrate sufficient for wetting at least a portion of the interconnected pores extending through the thickness from the first major surface to the second major surface.

[0068] The irradiance of ultraviolet radiation received by a coated porous substrate can affect the extent to which the polymerizable species are polymerized. In some embodiments, at least 10 weight percent of the polymerizable species can be polymerized. In other embodiments, at least 20 weight percent, at least 30 weight percent, or at least 40 weight percent of the polymerizable species can be polymerized form polymerized material residing within the thickness of the porous substrate.

[0069] The irradiance of the ultraviolet radiation delivered to the coated porous substrate can be dependent upon, but not limited to, processing parameters including the type of ultraviolet radiation source selected, the line speed (e.g., continuous process line) used, and the distance of the ultraviolet radiation source to the first major surface of the coated porous substrate. In some embodiments, the irradiance can be regulated by controlling the line speed. For example, at the irradiance delivered to the first major surface can be greater at lower line speeds, and the irradiance delivered to the first major surface at the first major surface can be reduced at faster line speeds.

[0070] The irradiance of the ultraviolet radiation source delivered to a coated porous substrate can be dependent upon the residence time as described above. The extent of polymerization of the polymerizable species throughout the thickness of the porous substrate can be controlled by the irradiance and can affect the concentration of polymerized material distributed through the thickness of the coated porous substrate. The peak irradiance delivered through the thickness of the coated porous substrate can be, for example, in a range of greater than 0 to about 100 mW/cm.sup.2.

[0071] In some embodiments, the irradiance at the coated porous substrate upon exposure to the ultraviolet radiation source can be at least about 0.5 micrometer extending into the thickness of the substrate from the first major surface. In another embodiment, the irradiance delivered to the coated porous substrate to polymerize the polymerizable species can be at least about 1 micrometer from the first major surface. In some embodiments, the irradiance delivered to the coated porous substrate can affect the polymerizable species to at least about 2 micrometers, to at least about 5 micrometers, to at least about 10 micrometers, or to at least about 25 micrometers extending into the thickness of the porous substrate. While low irradiation and longer exposures are preferred for using ultraviolet radiation sources, polymerizing polymerizable species as a matter of practical operation may necessitate speeds that can require higher irradiance and shorter exposures.

[0072] FIG. 1 illustrates the application of a long wavelength radiation source 40 having a peak emission wavelength greater than 340 nm to a coated porous substrate. FIG. 1 (comparative example) illustrates a cross-section of a porous substrate 5 irradiated by the long wavelength radiation source 40. Porous substrate 5 comprises a first major surface 10, a second major surface 20, and a pore 35. The long wavelength radiation source 5 can irradiate the polymerizable species to form polymerized material 30 which extends through the thickness of the porous substrate from the first major surface 10 to the second major surface 20. After irradiance of the porous substrate 5, a symmetric membrane can be formed.

[0073] FIG. 2 illustrates the application of an ultraviolet radiation source 80 having a peak emission wavelength less than 340 nm to a coated porous substrate is illustrated in FIG. 2. FIG. 2 illustrates a cross-section of a porous substrate 45 irradiated by a low intensity radiation source 80. Porous substrate comprises a first major surface 50, a second major surface 60, and a pore 95. The ultraviolet radiation source 80 irradiates the polymerizable species forming a first concentration of polymerized material 65 (first polymerized material) which extends through a portion of the pore 95 in proximity of the first major surface 50 extending to an average polymerized material concentration location 85. In pore 95, a portion of pore 95 can contain a second concentration of polymerized material 70 (second polymerized material) in proximity of the second major surface 60. The first concentration and the second concentrations of polymerized material recited in FIG. 2 are merely for illustrative purposes, and do not define absolute concentrations of polymerized materials retained within the pores of the porous substrate. A first polymerized material-pore interface 90 is formed where the first concentration of polymerized material 65 contacts the pore 95. A second polymerized material-pore interface 100 is formed where the second concentration of polymerized material 70 contacts the pore 95. Average polymerized material concentration location 85 can be located from about 5 percent of the thickness extending from the first major surface 50 to the second major surface 60. In some embodiments, the polymerized material concentration location 85 can be at least about 10 percent, at least about 25 percent, at least 50 percent or at least about 75 percent of the thickness of the porous substrate extending from the first major surface 50 to the second major surface 60.

[0074] In some embodiments, an asymmetric membrane can be formed using a multilayer structure wherein the porous substrate is coated with a polymerizable composition as previously described to provide a coated porous substrate. A first layer can be positioned adjacent to the first major surface of the coated porous substrate, and a second layer can be positioned adjacent to the second major surface of the coated porous substrate to thereby form a multilayer structure. The first layer and the second layer may be discrete pieces of materials or they may comprise continuous sheets of materials. On a continuous process line, for example, the first layer and the second layer may be unwound from rolls and brought into contact with the coated porous substrate. In foregoing embodiments wherein the coated porous substrate is positioned (i.e., sandwiched) between a first layer and a second layer to form a multilayer structure, a single roller or multiple rollers may be used to meter or remove excess polymerizable composition and entrapped air bubbles from the coated porous substrate. The first layer and the second layer of the multilayer structure may comprise any inert material that is capable of providing temporary protection to the membrane from exposure to oxygen upon exiting the ultraviolet radiation source having a peak emission wavelength of less than 340 nm. Suitable materials for the first layer and the second layer include, for example, sheet materials selected from polyethylene terephthalate (PET), biaxially oriented polypropylene (BOPP), fluorinate polyolefin available from 3M Company and Dupont, other aromatic polymer film materials, and any other non-reactive polymer film material. The first layer should be substantially transparent to the peak emission wavelength of the ultraviolet radiation source selected. Once assembled, the multilayer structure typically proceeds to irradiation by the ultraviolet radiation source. After irradiation, the first layer and the second layer can be removed (i.e., eliminated) from the multilayer structure to provide the asymmetric membrane.

[0075] The thickness of the first layer of the multilayer structure can generally be in a range of 10 micrometers to 250 micrometers, 20 micrometers to 200 micrometers, 25 micrometers to 175 micrometers, or 25 micrometers to 150 micrometers. The second layer may have the same or a different thickness than that of the first layer. The first layer may be the same material or a different material that that used for the second layer.

[0076] In some embodiments, a first layer is positioned adjacent to the first major surface on the coated porous substrate to form a bi-layer structure. The first layer can be positioned between the ultraviolet radiation source and the coated porous substrate. After irradiation by the ultraviolet radiation source, the first layer can be removed (i.e., eliminated) from the bi-layer structure to provide the asymmetric membrane.

[0077] In another embodiment, the coated porous substrate is free of a first layer and a second layer. The coated porous substrate may be subjected to an inert atmosphere (e.g., nitrogen, argon) to reduce the penetration of oxygen (e.g., provide an oxygen free environment) to the coated porous substrate.

[0078] In some embodiments, the penetration of the ultraviolet radiation source can be limited by the selection of the ultraviolet radiation source through the coated porous substrate to produce a gradient of polymerized material within the asymmetric membrane that can result in different polymerized material compositions on the first major surface and the second major surface. In some embodiments, polymerized material can reside on the first major surface and within a portion of the thickness of the porous substrate. The polymerized material residing within the thickness of the porous substrate can have a gradient concentration of polymerized material extending from the first major surface to the second major surface. In one embodiment, an asymmetric membrane has a hydrophilic surface and a hydrophobic surface.

[0079] The asymmetric membrane formed by the method of the present disclosure can have a variety of surface properties and structural characteristics depending on a number of factors. These factors include without limitation the physical and chemical properties of the porous substrate, the geometry of the pores of the porous substrate (i.e., symmetric or asymmetric), the method of forming the porous substrate, the polymeric species polymerized and retained as polymerized material with the surfaces (i.e., first major, interstitial pore, and second major) of the coated porous substrate, optional post-polymerization treatments (e.g., a heating step) administered to the asymmetric membrane, and optional post-polymerization reactions (e.g., reactions of the additional functional group of the polymerizable species species with a compound such as a nucleophilic compound or a compound with an ionic group).

[0080] Asymmetric membranes of the present disclosure can exhibit various degrees of wettability upon exposure to various polymerizable compositions. Wettability can often be correlated to the hydrophilic or hydrophobic character of the asymmetric membrane. As used herein, the term "instant wet" or "instant wettability" refers to the penetration of droplets of water into a given asymmetric membrane as soon as the water contacts the porous substrate surface, typically within less than 1 second. For example, a surface wetting energy of about 72 dynes/cm or larger usually results in instant wetting. As used herein, the term "no instant wet" refers to penetration of droplets of water into a given substrate but not as soon as the water contacts the substrate surface. As used herein, the term "no wetting" refers to the lack of penetration of droplets of water into a given asymmetric membrane. For example, a surface wetting energy of about 60 dynes/cm or less usually results in no wetting without applied pressure.

[0081] Application of polymerizable compositions onto a hydrophobic porous substrate and treating the coated hydrophobic porous substrate to the ultraviolet radiation can result in a membrane having first and second major surfaces having hydrophobic character, a first major surface having hydrophilic character and a second major surface having hydrophobic character, or first and second major surfaces having hydrophilic character. Similarly, applying polymerizable species onto a hydrophilic porous substrate and treating the coated hydrophilic porous substrate to ultraviolet radiation can result in an asymmetric membrane having first and second major surfaces having hydrophilic character, a first major surface having hydrophobic character and a second major surface having hydrophilic character, or first and second major surfaces having hydrophobic character.

[0082] In one embodiment, the porous substrate is hydrophobic or hydrophilic. In another embodiment, an asymmetric membrane can be formed comprising a hydrophobic surface and a hydrophilic surface. A first major surface can be hydrophilic and a second major surface can be hydrophobic.

[0083] In one embodiment, an asymmetric membrane can comprise a symmetric porous substrate. The asymmetric membrane can comprise a gradient concentration of polymerized material extending from the first major surface to the second major surface, such that the concentration of polymerized material is greater at the first major surface than at the second major surface. In another embodiment, a first major surface is hydrophilic and a second major surface is hydrophobic.

[0084] In another embodiment, an asymmetric membrane can comprise an asymmetric porous substrate. The asymmetric membrane can comprise a gradient concentration of polymerized material extending from the first major surface to the second major surface, such that the concentration of polymerized material is greater at the first major surface than at the second major surface. In another embodiment, a first major surface is hydrophilic and a second major surface is hydrophobic.

[0085] In one embodiment, the asymmetric membrane can be chemically asymmetric. The asymmetric membrane comprises a symmetric porous substrate having a first major surface and a second major surface, wherein the major surfaces (e.g., being hydrophilic) can contain polymerized material retained throughout at least a portion of the thickness of the porous substrate. The asymmetric membrane can have a greater concentration of polymerized material at the first major surface than at the second major surface.

[0086] In another embodiment, the asymmetric membrane can be physically asymmetric. For example, the physically asymmetric porous substrate can have a greater concentration of the polymerized material at the first major surface than at the second major surface. In some embodiments, the gradient of polymerized material can contribute to at least partially blocking of the pores on at least one major surface and an increased pore size extending through the thickness of the porous substrate to a second major surface.

[0087] Asymmetric membranes formed having a greater concentration of polymerized material at the first major surface than at the second major surface are described. Asymmetric membranes can find applications in water softening, filtration, and chromatography. Asymmetric membranes formed by a continuous process provide for producing membranes more efficiently and more economically.

[0088] The disclosure will be further clarified by the following examples which are exemplary and not intended to limit the scope of the disclosure.

EXAMPLES

[0089] The present disclosure is more particularly described in the following non-limiting examples. Unless otherwise noted, all parts, percentages, and ratios reported in the following examples are on a weight basis.

Test Procedures

Water Flux Measurements and MgCl.sub.2 Rejection Measurements

[0090] Water flux and MgCl.sub.2 (magnesium chloride, salt) rejection measurements of the asymmetric membrane prepared above were measured with a stirred ultrafiltration cell (model 8400; Millipore Corporation, Bedford, Mass.) having an active surface area of 41.8 cm.sup.2. The trans-membrane pressure was set at 50 psi (pounds per square inch) under pressurized nitrogen gas. Water flux was calculated based upon the amount of water passing through the membrane as a function of time, asymmetric membrane area, and the set pressure. The MgCl.sub.2 rejection (salt rejection) was obtained from the conductivities of the permeate (C.sub.r) and the feed (C.sub.f) (500 ppm MgCl.sub.2 aqueous solution) according to the following equation;

R ( MgCl 2 ) = ( 1 - C p C f ) .times. 100 % ##EQU00001##

R=percent salt rejection.

[0091] The conductivity (C.sub.p and C.sub.f) was measured with a conductivity meter (VWR Digital Conductivity Bench Meter; VWR International, West Chester, Pa.), and the mass of permeate was measured by an electronic balance (model TE3102S; Sartorius, Edgewood, N.Y.). The conductivity and the mass of the permeate data were collected as a function of time using Winwedge 32 computer software (TAI Technologies, Philadelphia, Pa.). Measurements were discontinued after the salt rejection measurements started to decline after reaching a plateau. The salt rejection was adjusted by the feed concentration at the end of testing.

Asymmetric Membrane Process

[0092] Asymmetric membranes were prepared by a continuous process. A polypropylene thermally induced phase separation (TIPS) membrane as described in U.S. Pat. No. 4,726,989 (Mrozinski) was die-coated with a polymerizable composition to form a coated porous substrate. The coated porous substrate was laminated between two liners in a gap-controlled nip. One of the two liners (e.g., films) was laminated to the first major surface and the other liner was laminated to the second major surface forming a multilayer structure. The biaxially oriented polypropylene liners ((BOPP) films of 1.18 mil (30 micrometer) thickness; 3M Company, St. Paul, Minn.) had a transmittance of about 78.5 percent (UVC) and 85.9 percent (UVA). The edges of the multilayer structure (i.e. edges of the two liners) were sealed with a pressure sensitive adhesive tape (Scotch ATG Tape 926; 3M, St. Paul, Minn.). The multilayer structure was enveloped by the BOPP liners and the excess polymerizable composition on the coated porous substrate was minimized. The multilayer structure was irradiated with a Quantum Microwave Multi-Lamp UV Curing System having a 47'' long UV window (Model: Quant-23/48R, Quantum Technologies; Irvine, Calif.). The Quantum UV System used either UVA lamps (26169-3, UV A 365 nm Peak Lamps TL60/10R, Philips, Somerset, N.J.) or UVC lamps (23596-0, Germicidal Sterlilamp 254 nm Lamps TUV115W, Philips, Somerset, N.J.). The line speed was adjusted using the machine speed display. The intensity of the ultraviolet radiation source was measured by a PowerMap radiometer (EIT UV Power MAP Spectral Response, UV: A, B, C, V, Range: Low, Head S/N 1408, Body S/N 1022; Sterling, Va.) as the multilayer structure was carried through the UV tray. The polymerizable species of the polymerizable composition were polymerized forming polymerized material retained within the porous substrate. The multilayer substrate was collected on a roll and the liners were removed. An asymmetric membrane was recovered. The asymmetric membrane was washed with distilled water prior to further testing.

Example 1

[0093] A polypropylene microporous TIPS membrane (bubble point pore diameter=0.58 .mu.m; thickness of about 3.5-3.6 mil (85-95 micrometers), water flux of 10521/m.sup.2hpsi) was die coated with a polymerizable composition. The polymerizable composition comprised 3-acrylamidopropyl trimethyl ammonium chloride ((APTAC), 75 wt. % in water; Sigma Aldrich, St. Louis, Mo.); N,N'-methylenebisacylamide (97%; Alfa Aesar, Ward Hill, Mass.), and 1-[4-(2-Hydroxyethoxy)-phenyl]-2-hydroxy-2-methyl-1-propane-1-one (Irgacure 2959; Ciba Specialty Chemicals, Tarrytown, N.Y.) in an ethanol/water solvent mixture (60/40 volume:volume ratio). The APTAC concentration was 0.55 mol/kg in the ethanol/water mixture. N,N'-methylenebisacylamide in ethanol/water and Irgacure 2959 had a concentration of 10 mole percent and 2 mole percent, respectively, relative to APTAC of the polymerizable species. No pretreatment was required for the porous substrate. The polymerizable composition was applied to the polypropylene microporous TIPS membrane for forming a coated porous substrate. The coated porous substrate was prepared as described by Asymmetric Membrane Process prior to forming a multilayer structure, and prior to irradiation by the UV radiation source. The multilayer structure was conveyed by a continuous process apparatus at a line speed of about 30.5 cm/minute. The first major surface (side A) of the coated membrane was irradiated by a UVC radiation source (light intensity of 5.77 mW/cm.sup.2). The wet membrane was about 110-120 micrometers (4.4-4.6 mils) in thickness. The separation performance of the membrane is listed in Table 1.

Comparative Example 1

CE 1

[0094] Comparative Example 1 was prepared similarly to Example 1 except that the UV radiation source (UVA) used to irradiate one side of the membrane. The first major surface (side A) of the coated membrane was irradiated by UVA (light intensity of 28.55 mW/cm.sup.2). The wet membrane was about 110-120 micrometers (4.4-4.6 mils) in thickness. The separation performance of the membrane is listed in Table 1.

TABLE-US-00001 TABLE 1 Light Side Pure 500 ppm 500 ppm Irradiation intensity facing water flux MgCl.sub.2 Flux MgCl.sub.2 Rejection Membrane Source (mW/cm.sup.2) feed (kg/m.sup.2-h-psi) (kg/m.sup.2-h-psi) (%) Example 1 UVC 5.77 A 0.84 0.76 93.3 B 0.80 0.71 49.9 CE 1 UVA 28.55 A 0.25 0.24 94.8 B 0.25 0.23 93.3

[0095] As illustrated in Table 1, Example 1 showed a 40% salt rejection change from Side A to Side B suggesting a gradient concentration of polymerized material extending from Side A to Side B. When Side B faced the feed, the salt rejection was reduced suggesting an asymmetric concentration of the polymerized material in the membrane. Comparative Example 1 showed a negligible percent salt rejection change from Side A to Side B suggesting a similar concentration of polymerized material extending through the thickness of the membrane from Side A to Side B.

[0096] Example 1 irradiated with a UVC radiation source shows about a three fold improvement in pure water flux as compared to Comparative Example 1 irradiated with a UVA radiation source.

Examples 2 and Comparative Example 2

CE 2

[0097] Example 2 (membrane of Example 1) and Comparative Example 2 (membrane of Comparative Example 1) were individually stained with a negative charged dye under the trade designation METANIL YELLOW commercially available form Alfa Aesar of Heysham, Lancashire, England. The membranes of Example 2 and Comparative Example 2 were immersed into an aqueous dye solution in a vial and stirred for about 24 hours. The membranes were removed from the vials, rinsed with deionized water and dried. Side A represented the first major surface and Side B represented the second major surface of the membranes of Example 2 and Comparative Example 2. Table 2 lists the results.

TABLE-US-00002 TABLE 2 Side A (first major Side B (second major Wettable Polymerizable Dye charge surface) dye binding surface) dye binding Side Membrane Species (+/-) (yes or no/color) (yes or no/color) (yes/no) Example 2 APTAC (+) METANIL Yes/dark yellow No/organic yellow Side A (yes) YELLOW (-) Side B (no) CE 2 APTAC (+) METANIL Yes/light orange Yes/light orange Side A (yes) YELLOW (-) Side B (yes)

[0098] As illustrated in Table 2, Example 2 showed an affinity for the yellow dye of the membrane at side A resulting in a dark yellow color, whereas the yellow dye was washed away from Side B. The surface at Side A has a greater concentration of polymerized material than at Side B indicative of an asymmetric membrane. Comparative Example 2 showed an affinity for the yellow dye of the membrane nearly equivalent at both Side A and Side B. Each side of Comparative Example 2 had a light orange color suggesting a similar concentration of polymerized material at Side A and Side B indicating the formation of a symmetric membrane.

Examples 3-4

[0099] A polypropylene microporous TIPS membrane (bubble point pore diameter=0.72 .mu.m; thickness of 4.2-4.3 mil (120-130 micrometers), water flux of 1475 l/m.sup.2 h psi was die coated with the polymerizable species of Example 1. No pretreatment of the polypropylene membrane was required. The polymerizable species was applied to the polypropylene microporous TIPS membrane to form a coated porous substrate. The coated porous substrate was prepared as described by Asymmetric Membrane Process prior to forming a multilayer structure and irradiating by the UVC radiation source. The multilayer structure was conveyed on by a continuous process apparatus at a line speed of about 50 cm/minute. The first major surface (side A) of the coated membrane was irradiated with different UVC light intensities (light intensity as measured by a PowerMap radiometer). The separation performance of the membranes of Examples 3-4 is shown in Table 3.

TABLE-US-00003 TABLE 3 Wet Pure water 500 ppm 500 ppm Light membrane flux MgCl.sub.2 Flux MgCl.sub.2 intensity thickness (kg/ (kg/ Rejection Membrane (mW/cm.sup.2) (.mu.m) m.sup.2-h-psi) m.sup.2-h-psi) (%) Example 3 2.12 130-140 0.42 0.39 95.0% Example 4 5.77 120-128 0.95 0.84 91.9%

[0100] Table 3 illustrates the effects of UVC radiation at different light intensity on coated porous substrates. A change in pure water flux can be observed at higher UVC light intensities.

Examples 5-13

[0101] A polypropylene microporous TIPS membrane as used in Examples 3-4 was die coated with the polymerizable composition of Example 1. No pretreatment of the PP membrane was required. The polymerizable species was applied to the polypropylene microporous TIPS membrane to form a coated porous substrate. The coated porous substrate was prepared as described by the Asymmetric Membrane Process prior to forming a multilayer structure, and prior to irradiation by the UVC radiation source. The multilayer structure was conveyed on a continuous process apparatus at variable line speeds shown in Table 4. The first major surface (side A) of the coated membrane was irradiated with different UVC light intensities (light intensity as measured by a PowerMap radiometer). The separation performance of the membranes of Examples 5-13 is listed in Table 4.

TABLE-US-00004 TABLE 4 Line Pure water 500 ppm 500 ppm Light Speed flux MgCl.sub.2 Flux MgCl.sub.2 intensity (cm/ (kg/ (kg/ Rejection Membrane (mW/cm.sup.2) minute) m.sup.2-h-psi) m.sup.2-h-psi) (%) Example 5 2.1 30.5 0.50 0.45 94.6 Example 6 2.1 152.4 0.61 0.56 93.9 Example 7 2.1 243.8 0.59 0.54 94.4 Example 8 3.9 30.5 0.76 0.68 92.8 Example 9 3.9 152.4 1.03 0.92 90.1 Example 10 3.9 243.8 1.17 1.06 89.3 Example 11 5.7 30.5 1.08 0.96 90.6 Example 12 5.7 152.4 1.50 1.32 85.8 Example 13 5.7 243.8 1.90 1.71 80.4

[0102] Table 4 illustrates the effect of line speed and UVC light intensity on coated porous substrates for forming membranes.

[0103] Various modifications and alterations of this disclosure will be apparent to those skilled in the art without departing from the scope and spirit of this disclosure, and it should be understood that this disclosure is not limited to the illustrative elements set forth herein.

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