Chris Buelke

Date of Award

January 2017

Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)


Space Studies

First Advisor

James Casler


Freshwater available for human consumption has declined in recent years due to many factors. Additionally, NASA has made it known that missions into deep space will require advances in water purification systems. Graphene oxide (GO) membranes have been demonstrated to be an effective purifier of water due to their unique architecture. Holey-graphene oxide (hGO), developed at NASA Langley Research Center, is similar to GO but hosts a more porous structure. Lignin-based membranes were also analyzed. This thesis investigates the membrane performances of these three membrane architectures to purify water. The membranes were prepared in varying thicknesses via vacuum filtration. Experiments were done in two phases. Phase I used a forward osmosis setup to examine membranes’ ion rejection. Phase II used dead-end filtration and examined ion rejection, organic molecule rejection and water flux. GO showed a significant increase in ion rejection for NaCl, but showed decreased water flux. hGO showed a significant increase in ion rejection for MgCl2. Organic molecule was increased by 15.8% for hGO over the control. Poor overall performance for ion rejection for both membranes is attributable to an increase in the intersheet distance inside the membranes due to hydration.