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Flexible Superhydrophobic Metal-Based Carbon Nanotube Membrane for Electrochemically Enhanced Water Treatment

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journal contribution
posted on 26.06.2020, 19:14 by Yiran Si, Chunyi Sun, Dongfeng Li, Fenglin Yang, Chuyang Y. Tang, Xie Quan, Yingchao Dong, Michael D. Guiver
Treatment of highly saline wastewaters via conventional technology is a key challenging issue, which calls for efficient desalination membranes featuring high flux and rejection, low fouling, and excellent stability. Herein, we report a high-strength and flexible electro-conductive stainless steel-carbon nanotube (SS-CNT) membrane, exhibiting significantly enhanced anticorrosion and antifouling ability via a microelectrical field-coupling strategy during membrane distillation. The membrane substrates exhibited excellent mechanical strength (244.2 ± 9.8 MPa) and ductility, thereby overcoming the critical bottleneck of brittleness of traditional inorganic membranes. By employing a simple surface activation followed by self-catalyzed chemical vapor deposition, CNT was grown in situ on SS substrates via a tip-growth mechanism to finally form robust superhydrophobic SS-CNT membrane. To address the challenging issues of significant corrosion and fouling, using a negative polarization microelectrical field-coupling strategy, simultaneously enhanced antifouling and anticorrosion performance was realized for treatment of organic high salinity waters while exhibiting stable high flux and rejection via an electrostatic repulsion and electron supply mechanism. This application-oriented rational design protocol can be potentially used to extend toward high performance composite membranes derived from other electro-conductive metal substrates functionally decorated with CNT network and to other applications in water treatment.