Microgel-based thermoresponsive membranes for water filtration
Filtration using membrane filters is one of the most commonly used separation techniques. Modern developments are aimed at membranes with tailored separation properties as well as switchability. German scientists have now developed a very simple method for the modification of membranes through the inclusion of microgels. In the journal Angewandte Chemie, they introduce hollow-fiber membranes that demonstrate temperature-dependent flow and retention, thanks to thermoresponsive microgels.
The researchers from RWTH Aachen University and DWI—Leibniz Institute for Interactive Materials used commercially available hollow-fiber membranes used for the ultra- and microfiltration of water. Hollow-fiber filters consist of bundles of fibers made of a semipermeable material with a channel on the inside. The walls of the fibers act as the membrane. In order to modify the membranes, a team led by Matthias Wessling simply filtered microgel suspensions through them. This allowed the microgels to become embedded into the porous structure of the membrane.
A gel is a three-dimensional molecular network that is filled with a liquid. Unlike the liquid in a sponge, the liquid in the gel is tightly bound. Microparticles of a gel are called microgels. The researchers used microgels made of polyvinylcaprolactam that are stable to about 32 °C. Above this temperature, the gel structure collapses, letting the water out.
The hollow-fiber membranes used have an asymmetric pore structure with internal diameters of 30 nm (ultrafiltration) to 200 nm (microfiltration) and external diameters of several micrometers. The fibers can be loaded with the microgels either from the outside in or from the inside out. In the first method the gel particles penetrate partway into the pores and the outside is then coated with microgel. In the second method, gel particles are only found on the interior of the pores, but not in those pores that are very narrow. In both types of fibers, the microgel is so firmly adsorbed that it cannot be washed away either during filtration or back flushing.
The permeability of both types is significantly reduced relative to the untreated membrane, because the microgel makes the pores less accessible. Raising the temperature causes the microgel to shrink, increasing the permeability of the membrane; cooling reverses the effect. This switching mechanism could be an important method for an efficient cleaning of the hollow fiber when high flow rates are needed during a backwashing step at low temperatures.
“The modification of conventional hollow-fiber membranes with stimuli-responsive microgels provides a straightforward and versatile route to design functional membranes with new, tailored properties that allow for regulation of the permeability,” says Wessling. “Varying the chemical structures of the microgels allows for the introduction of specific functionalities into membranes, increasing the efficiency and selectivity of separation processes in water treatment and medical technology. We will further develop this versatile platform by fundamental research within the SFB Functional Microgels and Microgel Systems of the German Research Foundation (DFG).”
About the Author
Matthias Wessling is Alexander von Humboldt Professor at RWTH Aachen. His research aims to integrate selective mass transfer and conversion into micro-, meso- and macroscopic systems. In particular, he focusses on systems with functionalities controlled by tailored interfaces. Macroscopic systems are being analyzed, modeled and developed at his chair for Chemical Engineering at RWTH Aachen University (Aachener Verfahrenstechnik). At DWI, Matthias Wessling focuses on micro- and mesoscopic systems which integrate the basic principles of biological systems. The overall aim is to synthesize interactive materials systems inspired by nature.
Author: Matthias Wessling, RWTH Aachen (Germany), http://www.avt.rwth-aachen.de/
Title: Temperature-Modulated Water Filtration Using Microgel-Functionalized Hollow-Fiber Membranes
Angewandte Chemie International Edition, Permalink to the article: http://dx.doi.org/10.1002/anie.201400316
Matthias Wessling | Angewandte Chemie International Edition
The secret sulfate code that lets the bad Tau in
16.07.2018 | American Society for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology
Colorectal cancer risk factors decrypted
16.07.2018 | Max-Planck-Institut für Stoffwechselforschung
For the first time ever, scientists have determined the cosmic origin of highest-energy neutrinos. A research group led by IceCube scientist Elisa Resconi, spokesperson of the Collaborative Research Center SFB1258 at the Technical University of Munich (TUM), provides an important piece of evidence that the particles detected by the IceCube neutrino telescope at the South Pole originate from a galaxy four billion light-years away from Earth.
To rule out other origins with certainty, the team led by neutrino physicist Elisa Resconi from the Technical University of Munich and multi-wavelength...
For the first time a team of researchers have discovered two different phases of magnetic skyrmions in a single material. Physicists of the Technical Universities of Munich and Dresden and the University of Cologne can now better study and understand the properties of these magnetic structures, which are important for both basic research and applications.
Whirlpools are an everyday experience in a bath tub: When the water is drained a circular vortex is formed. Typically, such whirls are rather stable. Similar...
Physicists working with Roland Wester at the University of Innsbruck have investigated if and how chemical reactions can be influenced by targeted vibrational excitation of the reactants. They were able to demonstrate that excitation with a laser beam does not affect the efficiency of a chemical exchange reaction and that the excited molecular group acts only as a spectator in the reaction.
A frequently used reaction in organic chemistry is nucleophilic substitution. It plays, for example, an important role in in the synthesis of new chemical...
Optical spectroscopy allows investigating the energy structure and dynamic properties of complex quantum systems. Researchers from the University of Würzburg present two new approaches of coherent two-dimensional spectroscopy.
"Put an excitation into the system and observe how it evolves." According to physicist Professor Tobias Brixner, this is the credo of optical spectroscopy....
Ultra-short, high-intensity X-ray flashes open the door to the foundations of chemical reactions. Free-electron lasers generate these kinds of pulses, but there is a catch: the pulses vary in duration and energy. An international research team has now presented a solution: Using a ring of 16 detectors and a circularly polarized laser beam, they can determine both factors with attosecond accuracy.
Free-electron lasers (FELs) generate extremely short and intense X-ray flashes. Researchers can use these flashes to resolve structures with diameters on the...
13.07.2018 | Event News
12.07.2018 | Event News
03.07.2018 | Event News
16.07.2018 | Physics and Astronomy
16.07.2018 | Transportation and Logistics
16.07.2018 | Agricultural and Forestry Science