Ultrathin and ion-selective Janus membranes for high-performance osmotic energy conversion

Zhen Zhang, Xin Sui, Pei Li, Ganhua Xie, Xiang-Yu Kong, Kai Xiao, Longcheng Gao, Liping Wen, Lei Jiang

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208 Citations (Scopus)


The osmotic energy existing in fluids is recognized as a promising "blue" energy source that can help solve the global issues of energy shortage and environmental pollution. Recently, nanofluidic channels have shown great potential for capturing this worldwide energy because of their novel transport properties contributed by nanoconfinement. However, with respect to membrane-scale porous systems, high resistance and undesirable ion selectivity remain bottlenecks, impeding their applications. The development of thinner, low-resistance membranes, meanwhile promoting their ion selectivity, is a necessity. Here, we engineered ultrathin and ion-selective Janus membranes prepared via the phase separation of two block copolymers, which enable osmotic energy conversion with power densities of approximately 2.04 W/m2 by mixing natural seawater and river water. Both experiments and continuum simulation help us to understand the mechanism for how membrane thickness and channel structure dominate the ion transport process and overall device performance, which can serve as a general guiding principle for the future design of nanochannel membranes for high-energy concentration cells.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)8905-8914
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of the American Chemical Society
Issue number26
Publication statusPublished - 5 Jul 2017
Externally publishedYes

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