Among the various factors required for membranes in organic solvent separations, the stability of membrane supports is critical in the preparation of membranes with universal chemical stability, mechanical flexibility, and high flux. In this study, nanoporous freestanding carbon nanotube (CNT) films were fabricated and utilized as supports for enhanced permeation in organic solvents. The excellent chemical stability of the CNT support allowed it to withstand various organic solvents such as toluene, acetone, and dimethylformamide. In addition, the structural stability and high pore density of CNT supports allowed the deposition of an ultrathin selective layer for an enhanced-flux membrane. Membrane performance was demonstrated by depositing a thin graphene oxide (GO) layer on the CNT support; GO was selected because of its high chemical stability. CNT-supported GO membranes effectively blocked molecules with molecular weight larger than ~800 g mol-1 while allowing the fast permeation of small molecules such as naphthalene (permeation was 50 times faster than that through thick GO membranes) and maintaining selective permeation in harsh solvents even after 72 hours of operation. We believe that the developed CNT support can provide fundamental insights in utilizing selective materials toward organic solvent membranes.
Bibliographical noteFunding Information:
This research was supported by a grant from the National Research Foundation of Korea funded by the Ministry of Science, ICT, and Future Planning (MSIP; grant no. 2015R1A2A1A05001844), the Climate Change Research Hub of KAIST (Grant no. N1117056), and the Basic Science Research Program of the National Research Foundation of Korea funded by MSIP (Grant no. 2015R1A6A3A04057367).
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