This study produced a novel polysulfone (PSF) membrane for dye removal using lemon-derived carbon quantum dots-grafted silver nanoparticles (Ag/CQDs) as membrane nanofiller. The preparation of CQDs was completed by undergoing hydrothermal treatment to carbonize the pulp-free lemon juice into CQD solution. The CQD solution was then coupled with Ag nanoparticles to form Ag/CQDs nanohybrid. The synthesized powders were characterized in terms of morphologies, functional groups and surface charges. A set of membranes was fabricated with different loadings of Ag/CQDs powder using the nonsolvent-induced phase separation (NIPS) method. The modified membranes were studied in terms of morphology, elemental composition, hydrophilicity and pore size. In addition, pure water flux, rejection test and fouling analysis of the membranes were evaluated using tartrazine dye. From the results, 0.5 wt % of Ag/CQD was identified as the optimum loading to be incorporated with the pristine PSF membrane. The modified membrane exhibited an excellent pure water permeability and dye rejection with improvements of 169% and 92%, respectively. In addition, the composite membrane also experienced lower flux decline, higher reversible fouling and lower irreversible fouling. This study has proven that the addition of CQD additives into membrane greatly improves the polymeric membrane's properties and filtration performance.
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