Tunable membranes incorporating artificial water channels for high-performance brackish/low-salinity water reverse osmosis desalination

Abstract
Membrane-based technologies have a tremendous role in water purification and desalination. Inspired by biological proteins, artificial water channels (AWCs) have been proposed to overcome the permeability/selectivity trade-off of desalination processes. Promising strategies exploiting the AWC with angstrom-scale selectivity have revealed their impressive performances when embedded in bilayer membranes. Herein, we demonstrate that self-assembled imidazole-quartet (I-quartet) AWCs are macroscopically incorporated within industrially relevant reverse osmosis membranes. In particular, we explore the best combination between I-quartet AWC and m-phenylenediamine (MPD) monomer to achieve a seamless incorporation of AWC in a defect-free polyamide membrane. The performance of the membranes is evaluated by crossflow filtration under real reverse osmosis conditions (15 to 20 bar of applied pressure) by filtration of brackish feed streams. The optimized bioinspired membranes achieve an unprecedented improvement, resulting in more than twice (up to 6.9 L·m−2·h−1·bar−1) water permeance of analogous commercial membranes, while maintaining excellent NaCl rejection (>99.5%). They show also excellent performance in the purification of low-salinity water under low-pressure conditions (6 bar of applied pressure) with fluxes up to 35 L·m−2·h−1and 97.5 to 99.3% observed rejection.

Citation
Di Vincenzo, M., Tiraferri, A., Musteata, V.-E., Chisca, S., Deleanu, M., Ricceri, F., … Barboiu, M. (2021). Tunable membranes incorporating artificial water channels for high-performance brackish/low-salinity water reverse osmosis desalination. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 118(37), e2022200118. doi:10.1073/pnas.2022200118

Acknowledgements
This work was supported by Agence Nationale de la Recherche grant number ANR-18-CE06-0004-02, WATERCHANNELS, and grant number ERANETMED 2-72-357, IDEA.

Publisher
Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences

Journal
Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences

DOI
10.1073/pnas.2022200118
10.1073/pnas.2022200118%7C1of8

Additional Links
http://www.pnas.org/lookup/doi/10.1073/pnas.2022200118https://europepmc.org/articles/pmc8449377?pdf=render

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