A novel thin film composite (TFC) polyamide reverse osmosis membrane was prepared via the interfacial polymerization of m-phenylene diamine (MPD) in aqueous phase and 1,3,5-trimesoyl chloride (TMC) in organic phase on a polysulfone ultrafiltration support by assisting with ethyl formate as a co-solvent added in the organic phase. The ethyl formate added in the organic phase is intended to form a narrow miscibility zone, which leads to the thicker reaction zone. The multi-layered loose polyamide structure with larger pore size was formed due to the thicker reaction zone and lower content of MPD. The enhanced hydrophilicity of the membrane was proved by the decreased water contact angle. Water flux was measured at 1.6 MPa with 2,000 ppm NaCl aqueous solution. Compared to the TFC membrane prepared without ethyl formate, the water flux across the TFC membrane with ethyl formate in the organic phase increased with the increased ethyl formate content (from 23 to 45 L/(m2 h)) and the salt rejection remained at a high level (>90%). The ethyl formate can be used as a co-solvent to effectively enhance the performance of the TFC membrane.

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