High-performance silk-based hybrid membranes employed for osmotic energy conversion

Weiwen Xin, Zhen Zhang, Xiaodong Huang, Yuhao Hu, Teng Zhou, Congcong Zhu, Xiang Yu Kong, Lei Jiang, Liping Wen

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235 Citations (Scopus)


The salinity gradient between seawater and river water is a clean energy source and an alternative solution for the increasing energy demands. A membrane-based reverse electrodialysis technique is a promising strategy to convert osmotic energy to electricity. To overcome the limits of traditional membranes with low efficiency and high resistance, nanofluidic is an emerging technique to promote osmotic energy harvesting. Here, we engineer a high-performance nanofluidic device with a hybrid membrane composed of a silk nanofibril membrane and an anodic aluminum oxide membrane. The silk nanofibril membrane, as a screening layer with condensed negative surface and nanochannels, dominates the ion transport; the anodic aluminum oxide membrane, as a supporting substrate, offers tunable channels and amphoteric groups. Thus, a nanofluidic membrane with asymmetric geometry and charge polarity is established, showing low resistance, high-performance energy conversion, and long-term stability. The system paves avenues for sustainable power generation, water purification, and desalination.

Original languageEnglish
Article number3876
Number of pages10
JournalNature Communications
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 28 Aug 2019
Externally publishedYes

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