Nanostructured Polymeric Membranes for a Sustainable Industry and Environment

Reference Presenter Authors
Suzana Nunes Nunes, S.(KAUST); Polymeric membranes already have an essential role in securing a worldwide growing demand of drinking water and substituting less sustainable processes such as thermal desalination. But there are huge opportunities for membrane technology in other sectors. For instance, great part of the energy consumed in the chemical and petrochemical industry is currently used in classical separation processes, which could be substituted by membrane-based technology if better membranes would be available. The extension of the contribution of the membrane technology to a healthier environment, a more sustainable chemical industry, and advanced biotech products fractionation is growing (Nunes et al., J. Membr. Sci. 2020, 117761) and its success is highly linked to nanotechnology. Among the most important challenges are the development of polymeric membranes with high thermal and solvent stability and the strict control of porosity and pore size, preferentially using greener manufacturing processes. Our group ( has been addressing the stability challenge by demonstrating the manufacture of polymeric membranes stable at temperatures as high as 500oC and effective in separations at lower temperatures using rather harsh solvents like dimethylformamide. For that, polymers, such as polytriazole and polyoxindolebiphenylene (Chisca et al., J. Membr. Sci. 2020, 117634; Pulido et al., J. Membr. Sci. 2018, 564, 361), have been synthesized and manufactured into asymmetric porous membranes, by non-solvent induced phase separation, followed by different chemical crosslinking strategies. Furthermore, we are developing multilayer membranes with top ultrathin selective layers for nanofiltration, formed by interfacial polymerization, using dendrimers, porphyrin and cyclodextrin (Huang et al. Adv. Funct. Mater. 2019, 1906797) as monomers. To address the challenge of manufacturing isoporous membranes with highly tuned morphology and selectivity, we are using different strategies. The first one, intensively explored in the last decade, is the self-assembly of block copolymers (Nunes et al. Macromolecules 2016, 49, 2905; Chisca et al. Science Adv. 2018, 4, eaat0713). By this method, we have been able to prepare membranes with isopores with diameters between 2 and 60 nm, with different functionalities, which promote not only a strict size-selectivity, but also stimuli response, catalytic activity, self-healing (Sustina et al. J. Membr. Sci. 2019, 585, 10) and application as sensors (Wustoni et al. Biosensors and Bioelectronics 2019, 143, 111561). A more recent strategy has been the formation of membranes with nanoporous 2D layers, with a dual-channel morphology using graphene oxide/silica (Wang et al. J. Mater. Chem. A 2019, 7, 11673) or based on covalent organic frameworks (M
<< Back