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Self-Propelling Hydrogel/Emulsion-Hydrogel Soft Motors for Water Purification

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posted on 23.03.2016, 00:00 authored by Hui Wang, Xiaoyu Gu, Chaoyang Wang
We fabricate a kind of catalytic self-propelling hydrogel soft motor (H-motor) via a facile injection loading method with low energy consumption. The factors influencing the practicability of H-motors, including locomotive ability and reusability, are investigated. The succession of rapid bubble evolution and propulsion endows the millimeter-sized columnar H-motors with length/diameter of 1 a remarkable speed of 3.84 mm s–1 in 10% (w/w) hydrogen peroxide (H2O2) solution. Moreover, the H-motors maintain undiminished propulsion capability and functionality even after repeated loading for 6 times. Additionally, we also fabricate emulsion-hydrogel soft motors (E-H-motors) templated from the oil/water (O/W) emulsion for the first time, which exhibit a faster speed of 4.33 mm s–1 under the same conditions. It can be ascribed to the additional liberation of low-boiling oil phase stored in the emulsion-hydrogels caused by catalytic reaction heat, which is appropriate for larger propulsive situations. The stabilized, efficient, and reusable H-motors are selected for industrial effluents purification to fit the imperious demands about the disposal of organic pollutants in water. The synergy effect between catalytic degradation and enhanced intermixing of the fluid flow around the miniaturized soft motors gives rise to an effective and exhaustive removal of organic contaminants.