Polydopamine has been widely used as an additive to enhance membrane fouling resistance. This study reports the effects of two-step dopamine-to-polydopamine modification on the permeation, antifouling, and potential anti-UV properties of polyethersulfone (PES)-based ultrafiltration membranes. The modification was performed through a two-step mechanism: adding the dopamine additive followed by immersion into Tris-HCl solution to allow polymerization of dopamine into polydopamine (PDA). The results reveal that the step of treatment, the concentration of dopamine in the first step, and the duration of dipping in the Tris solution in the second step affect the properties of the resulting membranes. Higher dopamine loadings improve the pure water flux (PWF) by more than threefold (15 vs. 50 L/m2·h). The extended dipping period in the Tris alkaline buffer leads to an overgrowth of the PDA layer that partly covers the surface pores which lowers the PWF. The presence of dopamine or polydopamine enhances the hydrophilicity due to the enrichment of hydrophilic catechol moieties which leads to better anti-fouling. Moreover, the polydopamine film also improves the membrane resistance to UV irradiation by minimizing photodegradation's occurrence.
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