Recent advances in biomimetic thin membranes applied in emulsified oil/water separation
Oil/water emulsion separation is a worldwide challenge because of frequent oil spill accidents and the large quantities of oily wastewater generated in various industrial processes. Among the many methods employed in separating oil/water emulsions, biomimetic thin membranes with a superwetting property have attracted tremendous interest because of their high separation efficiency, low energy consumption, scalable productivity, good stability and durability. In this paper, the typical superwettable materials in nature and the basic rules for constructing biomimetic thin membranes are summarised. In terms of the different categories of membrane materials, recent developments in biomimetic thin membranes, including polymer-based membranes, metallic mesh-based membranes, ceramic membranes and carbon nanotube-based composite membranes, are presented in this review. For each filtration membrane, its fabrication methods are introduced in detail and the role of each method in the fabrication and performance of membrane is discussed comprehensively. Finally, some challenges and prospects concerning the future development of filtration are discussed. This review is aimed to give a brief and systematic overview of biomimetic thin membranes fabrication applied in oil/water emulsion separation.