Robust thermoresponsive polymer composite membrane with switchable superhydrophilicity and superhydrophobicity for efficient oil-water separation

Ranwen Ou, Jing Wei, Lei Jiang, George P. Simon, Huanting Wang

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

197 Citations (Scopus)


Herein, we report for the first time on the fabrication of a robust, thermoresponsive polymer membrane produced by the combination of an elastic polyurethane (TPU) microfiber web and poly(N-isopropylacrylamide) (PNIPAM). PNIPAM hydrogel is evenly coated on the surface of TPU microfibers, and thus, the wettability of TPU-PNIPAM membrane is amplified by taking advantage of the hierarchical structure and increased surface roughness. The TPU-PNIPAM membrane possesses switchable superhydrophilicity and superhydrophobicity as the temperature of membrane changes from 25 to 45 °C. The composite membrane is shown successfully able to separate a 1 wt % oil-in-water emulsion and 1 wt % water-in-oil emulsion at 25 and 45 °C, respectively, with a high separation efficiency of ≥99.26%. Furthermore, the composite membranes show excellent mechanical properties, and they are highly flexible and mechanically tough. The smart composite membranes reported here have shown great potential for further development for practical highefficiency oil−water separations
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)906-914
Number of pages9
JournalEnvironmental Science and Technology
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 2016

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