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Molecularly Tunable Thin-film Nanocomposite Membranes With Enhanced Molecular Sieving For Organic Solvent Forward Osmosis

Bofan Li, Susilo Japip, Tai-Shung Chung
Published 2020 · Medicine, Biology
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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, sulfothiacalix[4]arene (STCAss) and sulfocalix[4]arene (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. Thin-film nanocomposites (TFN) nanomaterials have been employed to tailor permeability and selectivity in membranes, but achieving effective separation at large flux retains challenging. Here, the authors use calix[4]arene derivatives which are ionically bonded to a polyamide network to engineer the molecular-sieving properties of TFN membranes for organic solvent forward osmosis (OSFO).
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