Hydrogel-polyurethane interpenetrating network material as an advanced draw agent for forward osmosis process

Jing Wei, Ze-Xian Low, Ranwen Ou, George P. Simon, Huanting Wang

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

29 Citations (Scopus)


Water desalination and purification are critical to address the global issue of the shortage of clean water. Forward osmosis (FO) desalination is an emerging low-cost technology for clean water production from saline water. The lack of a suitable draw agent is one of hurdle for the commercialization of FO desalination technology. Recently, the thermoresponsive hydrogel has been demonstrated to be a potential draw agent for the FO process. However, the commonly used hydrogel powder shows a much lower flux than other kind of draw agent such as inorganic salts. In this work, a hydrogel-polyurethane interpenetrating network (HPIPN) with monolith formwas prepared by controlling the radical polymerization of the monomers (N-isopropylacrylamide and sodium acrylate) in the macropores (~400 mm) of commercial polyurethane foam (PUF). These HPIPN composites show a flux as high as 17.9 LMH, which is nearly 8 times than that of hydrogel powders (2.2 LMH). The high flux is attributed to the 3-D continuous hydrogel-polyurethane interpenetrating network, which can effectively enhance the water transport inside the monolith.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)292 - 298
Number of pages7
JournalWater Research
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jun 2016

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