A flexible, robust and antifouling asymmetric membrane based on ultra-long ceramic/polymeric fibers for high-efficiency separation of oil/water emulsions

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Polymeric and ceramic asymmetric membranes have dominated commercial membranes for water treatment. However, polymeric membranes are prone to becoming fouled, while ceramic membranes are mechanically fragile. Here, we report a novel concept to develop asymmetric membranes based on ultra-long ceramic/polymeric fibers, with the combined merits of good mechanical stability, excellent fouling resistance and high oil/water selectivity, in order to meet the stringent requirements for practical oil/water separation. The ultra-long dimensions of ceramic nanofibers/polymeric microfibers endow this novel membrane with mechanical flexibility and robustness, due to the integrated and intertwined structure. This membrane is capable of separating oil/water emulsions with high oil-separation efficiency (99.9%), thanks to its nanoporous selective layer made of ceramic nanofibers. Further, this membrane also displays superior antifouling properties due to its underwater superoleophobicity and ultra-low oil adhesion of the ceramic-based selective layer. This membrane exhibits high water permeation flux (6.8 × 104 L m-2 h-1 bar-1) at low operation pressures, which is attributed to its 3-dimensional (3D) interconnected fiber-based structure throughout the membrane. In addition, the facile fabrication process and inexpensive materials required for this membrane suggest its significant potential for industrial applications.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)9018-9025
Number of pages8
Issue number26
Publication statusPublished - 14 Jul 2017


ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Materials Science(all)

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