Molecularly tunable thin-film nanocomposite membranes with enhanced molecular sieving for organic solvent forward osmosis.
ABSTRACT: Thin-film nanocomposites (TFN) functionalized with tunable molecular-sieving nanomaterials have been employed to tailor membranes, with an enhanced permeability and selectivity. Herein, water-soluble hollow cup-like macrocyclic molecules, sulfothiacalixarene (STCAss) and sulfocalixarene (SCA), are ionically bonded into the polyamide network to engineer the molecular-sieving properties of TFN membranes for organic solvent forward osmosis (OSFO). Introducing both STCAss and SCA into the polyamide network not only increases the free volume, but also reduces the thickness of the TFN layers. Combining with their molecularly tunable size of the lower cavities, both STCAss and SCA enable the TFN membranes to size exclusively reject the draw solutes, but only STCAss-functionalized membrane has an ethanol flux doubling the pristine one under the FO and PRO modes in OSFO processes; leading the functionalized polyamide network with remarkable improvements in OSFO performance. This study may provide insights to molecularly functionalize TFN membranes using multifunctional nano-fillers for sustainable separations.
Project description:A hydrophilic, hydrostable porous metal organic framework (MOF) material-MIL-101 (Cr) was successfully doped into the dense selective polyamide (PA) layer on the polysulfone (PS) ultrafiltration (UF) support to prepare a new thin film nanocomposite (TFN) membrane for water desalination. The TFN-MIL-101 (Cr) membranes were characterized by SEM, AFM, XPS, wettability measurement and reverse osmosis (RO) test. The porous structures of MIL-101 (Cr) can establish direct water channels in the dense selective PA layer for water molecules to transport through quickly, leading to the increasing water permeance of membranes. With good compatibility between MIL-101 (Cr) nanoparticles and the PA layer, the lab made TFN-MIL-101 (Cr) membranes integrated tightly and showed a high NaCl salt rejection. MIL-101 (Cr) nanoparticles increased water permeance to 2.2 L/m²·h·bar at 0.05 w/v % concentration, 44% higher than the undoped PA membranes; meanwhile, the NaCl rejection remained higher than 99%. This study experimentally verified the potential use of MIL-101 (Cr) in advanced TFN RO membranes, which can be used in the diversified water purification field.
Project description:Separating molecules or ions with sub-Angstrom scale precision is important but technically challenging. Achieving such a precise separation using membranes requires Angstrom scale pores with a high level of pore size uniformity. Herein, we demonstrate that precise solute-solute separation can be achieved using polyamide membranes formed via surfactant-assembly regulated interfacial polymerization (SARIP). The dynamic, self-assembled network of surfactants facilitates faster and more homogeneous diffusion of amine monomers across the water/hexane interface during interfacial polymerization, thereby forming a polyamide active layer with more uniform sub-nanometre pores compared to those formed via conventional interfacial polymerization. The polyamide membrane formed by SARIP exhibits highly size-dependent sieving of solutes, yielding a step-wise transition from low rejection to near-perfect rejection over a solute size range smaller than half Angstrom. SARIP represents an approach for the scalable fabrication of ultra-selective membranes with uniform nanopores for precise separation of ions and small solutes.
Project description:The development of nano-enabled composite materials has led to a paradigm shift in the manufacture of high-performance nanocomposite membranes with enhanced permeation, thermo-mechanical, and antibacterial properties. The major challenges to the successful incorporation of nanoparticles (NPs) to polymer films are the severe aggregation of the NPs and the weak compatibility of NPs with polymers. These two phenomena lead to the formation of non-selective voids at the interface of the polymer and NPs, which adversely affect the separation performance of the membrane. To overcome these challenges, we have developed a new method for the fabrication of robust TFN reverse osmosis membranes. This approach relies on the simultaneous synthesis and surface functionalization of TiO2 NPs in an organic solvent (heptane) via biphasic solvothermal reaction. The resulting stable suspension of the TiO2 NPs in heptane was then utilized in the interfacial (in-situ) polymerization reaction where the NPs were entrapped within the matrix of the polyamide (PA) membrane. TiO2 NPs of 10?nm were effectively incorporated into the thin PA layer and improved the thermal stability and anti-biofouling properties of the resulting TFN membranes. These features make our synthesized membranes potential candidates for applications where the treatment of high-temperature streams containing biomaterials is desirable.
Project description:Enhancing the water flux while maintaining the high salt rejection of existing reverse osmosis membranes remains a considerable challenge. Herein, we report the use of a porous carbon nitride (C3N4) nanoparticle to potentially improve both the water flux and salt rejection of the state-of-the-art polyamide (PA) thin film composite (TFC) membranes. The organic-organic covalent bonds endowed C3N4 with great compatibility with the PA layer, which positively influenced the customization of interfacial polymerization (IP). Benefitting from the positive effects of C3N4, a more hydrophilic, more crumpled thin film nanocomposite (TFN) membrane with a larger surface area, and an increased cross-linking degree of PA layer was achieved. Moreover, the uniform porous structure of the C3N4 embedded in the "ridge" sections of the PA layer potentially provided additional water channels. All these factors combined provided unprecedented performance for seawater desalination among all the PA-TFC membranes reported thus far. The water permeance of the optimized TFN membrane is 2.1-folds higher than that of the pristine PA-TFC membrane, while the NaCl rejection increased to 99.5% from 98.0%. Our method provided a promising way to improve the performance of the state-of-art PA-TFC membranes in seawater desalination.
Project description:Forward osmosis (FO) is a promising alternative to reverse osmosis (RO) in membrane-based water desalination. In the current study, carboxylated multiwalled carbon nanotubes (MWCNTs) were incorporated in a polyamide (PA) layer formed on top of a polysulfone porous support, resulting in a thin film nanocomposite (TFN) membrane. The amount of MWCNTs was varied (0.01, 0.05, 0.1, and 0.2 wt/vol %). The FO performance was investigated using deionized water as the feed solution and 2 M NaCl as the draw solution. It was found that the carboxylated MWCNTs enhanced the membrane hydrophilicity, surface roughness, and porosity. Such combined effects are believed to have led to enhanced FO water flux. TFN 0.2 showed the highest FO water flux of 73.15 L/m<sup>2</sup> h, an improvement of 67% compared to the blank thin-film composite (TFC) membrane and significantly better than the values reported in the literature. Direct observation by transmission electron microscopy revealed the presence of some open-ended CNTs favorably oriented across the PA layer. Those are believed to have facilitated the transport of water through their inner cores and contributed to the increase in water flux. However, this was at the expense of salt rejection and reverse solute flux performance. The best performing membrane was found to be TFN 0.01. It exhibited a salt rejection of 90.1% with a FO water flux of 50.23 L/m<sup>2</sup> h, which is 13% higher than the TFC membrane, and a reverse solute flux of 2.76 g/m<sup>2</sup> h, which is 21% lower than the TFC membrane. This TFN 0.01 membrane also outperformed the TFN membranes reported in the literature.
Project description:Covalent organic frameworks (COFs) hold great promise in molecular separations owing to their robust, ordered and tunable porous network structures. Currently, the pore size of COFs is usually much larger than most small molecules. Meanwhile, the weak interlamellar interaction between COF nanosheets impedes the preparation of defect-free membranes. Herein, we report a series of COF membranes through a mixed-dimensional assembly of 2D COF nanosheets and 1D cellulose nanofibers (CNFs). The pore size of 0.45-1.0 nm is acquired from the sheltering effect of CNFs, rendering membranes precise molecular sieving ability, besides the multiple interactions between COFs and CNFs elevate membrane stability. Accordingly, the membranes exhibit a flux of 8.53 kg m-2 h-1 with a separation factor of 3876 for n-butanol dehydration, and high permeance of 42.8 L m-2 h-1 bar-1 with a rejection of 96.8% for Na2SO4 removal. Our mixed-dimensional design may inspire the fabrication and application of COF membranes.
Project description:Carboxylic acid groups impart hydrophilicity and ionizable moieties to polyamide membranes for desalination, hence influencing water and ion transport through the material. Model polyamide films were synthesized via molecular layer-by-layer deposition on planar substrates to study the formation process of these materials and overcome the chemical and topological inhomogeneity inherent to conventional interfacially polymerized polyamide membranes. The carboxylic acid content in these model films was characterized using Fourier transform infrared (FTIR) spectroscopy by quantifying the C=O band at 1718 cm-1. The concentration of carboxylic acid groups decreased as the thickness of the membrane increased, suggestive of an increase in crosslink density as the polyamide network develops. For the thinnest molecular layer-by-layer (mLbL) samples, the carboxylic acid concentration for films on gold was 0.35 mmol g-1, whereas analogous films on silicon had an acid content of 0.56 mmol g-1, indicating a clear influence of the substrate on the initial network formation. As the thickness of the membrane increased, the influence of the substrate and initial layer growth became less significant as the carboxylic acid concentration on both substrates reached a value of 0.12 mmol g-1. We demonstrate that FTIR spectroscopy is a practical and accessible way to quantify the carboxylic acid content in these types of extremely thin polyamide membranes to help quantify network formation in these materials.
Project description:Diffusion based separations are essential for laboratory and clinical dialysis processes. New molecularly thin nanoporous membranes may improve the rate and quality of separations achievable by these processes. In this work we have performed protein and small molecule separations with 15 nm thick porous nanocrystalline silicon (pnc-Si) membranes and compared the results to 1- and 3- dimensional models of diffusion through ultrathin membranes. The models predict the amount of resistance contributed by the membrane by using pore characteristics obtained by direct inspection of pnc-Si membranes in transmission electron micrographs. The theoretical results indicate that molecularly thin membranes are expected to enable higher resolution separations at times before equilibrium compared to thicker membranes with the same pore diameters and porosities. We also explored the impact of experimental parameters such as porosity, pore distribution, diffusion time, and chamber size on the sieving characteristics. Experimental results are found to be in good agreement with the theory, and ultrathin membranes are shown to impart little overall resistance to the diffusion of molecules smaller than the physical pore size cutoff. The largest molecules tested experience more hindrance than expected from simulations indicating that factors not incorporated in the models, such as molecule shape, electrostatic repulsion, and adsorption to pore walls, are likely important.
Project description:PEGylated dendrimers are attractive for biological applications due to their tunable pharmacokinetics and ability to carry multiple copies of bioactive molecules. The rapid and efficient synthesis of a robust and biodegradable PEGylated dendrimer based on a polyester-polyamide hybrid core is described. The architecture is designed to avoid destructive side reactions during dendrimer preparation while maintaining biodegradability. Therefore, a dendrimer functionalized with doxorubicin (Dox) was prepared from commercial starting materials in nine, high-yielding linear steps. Both the dendrimer and Doxil were evaluated in parallel using equimolar dosage in the treatment of C26 murine colon carcinoma, leading to statistically equivalent results with most mice tumor-free at the end of the 60 day experiment. The attractive features of this dendritic drug carrier are its simple synthesis, biodegradability, and versatility for application to a variety of drug payloads with high drug loadings.
Project description:With the blooming of oil and gas industries, oily saline wastewater treatment becomes a viable option to resolve the oily water disposal issue and to provide a source of water for beneficial use. Reverse osmosis (RO) has been touted as a promising technology for oily saline wastewater treatment. However, one great challenge of RO membrane is fouling phenomena, which is caused by the presence of hydrocarbon contents in the oily saline wastewater. This study focuses on the fabrication of antifouling RO membrane for accomplishing simultaneous separation of salt and oil. Thin film nanocomposite (TFN) RO membrane was formed by the layer by layer (LbL) assembly of positively charged TNS (pTNS) and negatively charged TNS (nTNS) on the surface of thin film composite (TFC) membrane. The unique features, rendered by hydrophilic TNS bilayer assembled on TFC membrane in the formation of a hydration layer to enhance the fouling resistance by high concentration oily saline water while maintaining the salt rejection, were discussed in this study. The characterization findings revealed that the surface properties of membrane were improved in terms of surface hydrophilicity, surface roughness, and polyamide(PA) cross-linking. The TFC RO membrane coated with 2-bilayer of TNS achieved >99% and >98% for oil and salt rejection, respectively. During the long-term study, the 2TNS-PA TFN membrane outperformed the pristine TFC membrane by exhibiting high permeability and much lower fouling propensity for low to high concentration of oily saline water concentration (1000 ppm, 5000 ppm and 10,000 ppm) over a 960 min operation. Meanwhile, the average permeability of uncoated TFC membrane could only be recovered by 95.7%, 89.1% and 82.9% for 1000 ppm, 5000 ppm and 10,000 ppm of the oily saline feedwater, respectively. The 2TNS-PA TFN membrane achieved almost 100% flux recovery for three cycles by hydraulic washing.