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Crown ether modified membranes for Na+-responsive controllable emulsion separation suitable for hypersaline environments

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Abstract

Smart superwetting materials have limited application for oil/water emulsion separation in the ocean due to the hyper-saline environment. Based on this, an ion-responsive material taking advantage of abundant Na+ in the seawater is designed via modifying benzo-15-crown-5 (B15C5) onto a polytetrafluoroethylene (PTFE) membrane using a facile spray method. Due to the molecular recognition properties of crown ethers, the membrane switches surface wettability based on the complexation between Na+ and B15C5. In a low-salt environment, the membrane exhibits high hydrophobicity (∼145°) and superoleophilicity (0°), which is able to separate various water-in-oil emulsions, while in the marine environment, the membrane changes to be highly hydrophilic (∼20°) and underwater superoleophobic (above 150°), which can be used for the separation of oil-in-water emulsions. A change of dipole distribution in crown ether molecules induces this significant wettability transition. Moreover, the membrane has excellent reusability, high separation efficiency and a facile fabrication process, showing great potential in many fields, such as industrial wastewater treatment under high salt conditions, marine oil-spill cleanup, and fuel purification.

Graphical abstract: Crown ether modified membranes for Na+-responsive controllable emulsion separation suitable for hypersaline environments

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Article information


Submitted
12 Nov 2019
Accepted
31 Dec 2019
First published
02 Jan 2020

J. Mater. Chem. A, 2020, Advance Article
Article type
Paper

Crown ether modified membranes for Na+-responsive controllable emulsion separation suitable for hypersaline environments

H. Zhai, R. Qu, X. Li, Y. Liu, Y. Wei and L. Feng, J. Mater. Chem. A, 2020, Advance Article , DOI: 10.1039/C9TA12418G

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