Ultrahigh-flux Nanoporous Graphene Membrane for Sustainable Seawater Desalination Using Low-grade Heat

Dongwei Lu, Zongyao Zhou, Zhihong Wang, Duc Tam Ho, Guan Sheng, Long Chen, Yumeng Zhao, Xiang Li, Li Cao, Udo Schwingenschlögl, Jun Ma, Zhiping Lai

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Scopus citations

Abstract

Membrane distillation has attracted great attention in the development of sustainable desalination and zero-discharge processes because of its possibility to recover 100% water and the potential to integrate with low-grade heat such as solar energy. However, the conventional membrane structures and materials afford limited flux thus obstructing its practical application. Here we report ultrathin nanoporous graphene membranes by selectively forming thin graphene layers on the top edges of highly porous anodic alumina oxide support, which creates short and fast transport pathways for water vapor but not liquid. The process avoids the challenging pore-generation and substrate-transfer processes required to prepare regular graphene membranes. In the direct contact membrane distillation mode under a mild temperature pair of 65°C /25°C, the nanoporous graphene membranes show an average water flux of 421.7 Lm-2 h-1 with over 99.8% salt rejection, which is an order of magnitude higher than any reported polymeric membranes. The mechanism for high water flux is revealed by detailed characterizations and theoretical modeling. Outdoor field tests using Red Sea water heated under direct sunlight radiation show that the membranes have an average water flux of 86.3 Lm-2 h-1 from 8 am. to 8 pm., showing a great potential for real applications in seawater desalination. This article is protected by copyright. All rights reserved.
Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)2109718
JournalAdvanced Materials
DOIs
StatePublished - Jan 6 2022

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Mechanics of Materials
  • Materials Science(all)
  • Mechanical Engineering

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