This technique revolutionizes the membrane separation mechanism

A new process that breaks with traditional methods of membrane separation has been developed. Indeed, an international team of researchers has experimented with a new membrane separation technology that is proving to be very ecological and less energy consuming. This particularly promising method dwells on on mixed matrix membranes (MMM) with charges to metal-organic structure (MOF).

The advantage of these membranes is that they do not require heat and consume up to 90% less energy than distillation. This revolutionary process makes the separation process more efficient, dynamic and selective. Experimentation with the technique revealed a few flaws in the surface of the membrane which were quickly resolved. An experience which made it possible to highlight the properties of poly (N-isopropylacrylamide).

The results of this approach have been detailed in the Journal of Materials Chemistry A.

A method inspired by nature

The researchers were faced with a problem with the hollow that could have affected the selectivity of the membrane. This technology initially revealed a lack of interfacial adhesion between the polymer matrix and MOF filler. This failure revealed nanoscale spaces and voids on the surface of the membrane.

To overcome these flaws, the researchers created new fillers of MOF nanoparticles strongly compatible with the polymer matrix of MMM. It suppressed the formation of pinholes at the fill-matrix interface.

“The approach was inspired by cementum, the layer of tissue that covers the root of the tooth, which is connected to surrounding tissue by collagen fibers. In our case, the MOF crystal is connected or entangled with the surrounding polymer matrix by grafting with poly (N-isopropylacrylamide). “

Rifan Hardian of KAUST, one of the leading scientists who conducted the research

Towards the simplification of membrane separation processes

The impact of PNIPAM in the dissociation of membranes allowed the researchers to hope for a certain ease in the mechanism of separation. Its surprising properties with hydrogen bonding and its ease of synthesis make it promising for the polymer grafting.

The researchers concluded that these advances “Could eliminate the need for grafting agents, which would simplify the membrane manufacturing process and make it more environmentally sustainable”.

Note that the membrane separation mechanism is necessary in several processes such as water treatment, seawater desalination, degassing of liquids, etc.

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