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A 3D smart wood membrane with high flux and efficiency for separation of stabilized oil/water emulsions

Jianfei Wu, Ziwei Cui, Yang Yu, He Han, Dan Tian, Jundie Hu, Jiafu Qu, Yahui Cai, Jianlin Luo, Jianzhang Li
Journal of hazardous materials 2023 v.441 pp. 129900
color, contact angle, durability, energy, irradiation, light, manufacturing, oils, polymerization, sewage, wastewater, wastewater treatment, wood
Oily sewage discharged from indiscriminate industrial and frequent oil spills have become a serious global problem. There is an urgent need to separate stable oil/water emulsions by efficient and environmentally friendly methods. Membrane separation technology has the advantages of low energy consumption and low cost, thus is an effective solution to the problems of oily wastewater. However, the manufacture of multifunctional membranes with high efficiency, high flux and self-cleaning using renewable materials remains a challenge. Herein, three-dimensional (3D) smart membranes with switchable superhydrophobic-hydrophilic surfaces were prepared by grafting photo-responsive poly-spiropyran (PSP) on wood-based substrates via surface atom transfer radical polymerization. This novel membrane can efficiently separate stabilized water-in-oil and oil-in-water emulsions due to reversible hydrophilic-hydrophobic transition by switching UV and visible light irradiation. Remarkably, after immobilization, the PSP grafted on the wood substrate exhibited a faster photo response effect than the free spiropyran (SP). More importantly, the prepared 3D smart membranes showed exceptional high flux (4392 L•m⁻²•h⁻¹) and efficiency (above 99.99 %), good cycle stability (99.99 % after 12 times) and durability (available for at least 60 days) for the separation of surfactant-stabilized water-in-oil emulsions. This work opens a new avenue for the design of functional biomass-derived membranes for efficient and sustainable oily wastewater treatment with high flux, easy scale-up, and green regeneration.