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Development of ceramic-supported 2D nanosheet membranes for Organic Solvent Nanofiltration (OSN)

Development of ceramic-supported 2D nanosheet membranes for Organic Solvent Nanofiltration (OSN)

Many industrial process streams are mixtures of water, solvents and other organic components. To reuse these streams, purification is required either by conventional methods (distillation) or by use of membrane technology. Membranes can facilitate to a large amounts in cleaning waste streams, which results in significant reduction in energy and contribute to a circular economy. In this project, we aim to create a new class of solvent tolerant nanofiltration membranes consisting of two-dimensional (2D) nanomaterials.


The interest on 2D nanomaterials (e.g. covalent-organic frameworks (COFs) or metal-organic frameworks (MOFs)) in membrane science and especially in OSN application is growing [1-3]. These materials, can offer control over the thickness and the pore size of the final organic layer. As such, membrane scientists theorize and in fact have observed through similar studies that 2D materials can significantly improve membrane permeabilities as well as selectivity [2]. These 2D-nanosheets-based membranes are typically prepared via in situ polymerization on a pre-functionalized support or via exfoliation of a premade 2D polymer material and subsequently coating on a ceramic support [1,3]. The first method implies covalent attachment between the inorganic surface and the organic framework and the second involves adsorption of the organic network on the ceramic support. Both can result in stable and selective membrane layers (Figure 1).

Figure 1. Overview of fabrication methods for preparation of organic framework membrane chemically (left route) or physically (right route) deposited on a ceramic surface.

In this Master assignment, the candidate will benefit of the expertise and equipment of the Inorganic Membrane group to:

  1. Preparation of ceramic-supported 2D nanosheet membranes. This method involves the preparation of a 2D polymeric material supported on a porous ceramic support via chemical or physical adsorption (Figure 1).
  2. Characterization of as-prepared membranes by various techniques like XRD, FTIR, AFM, SEM, contact angle etc.
  3. Identify key parameters that control membrane properties (thickness, adhesion to the support, etc.).
  4. Evaluate the performance of the membranes under OSN condition.  

Skills which will be developed during the Master assignment:

  • Synthesis of 2D nanomaterials and preparation of 2D nanosheet membranes.
  • Characterization of the as-prepared membranes (XRD, FTIR, AFM, SEM, contact angle, DLS, etc...).
  • Evaluation of membrane performances under OSN conditions: solvents permeability and solutes rejection measurements.


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[1] T. Nakato, J. Kawamata, S. Takagi, Inorganic nanosheets and nanosheet-based materials: Fundamentals and applications of two-dimensional systems, Nanostructure Science and Technology, Springer Japan, 2017. [2] Hongwei Fan, Jiahui Gu, Hong Meng, Alexander Knebel, and Jürgen Caro, High-Flux Membranes Based on the Covalent Organic Framework COF-LZU1 for Select                  Nanofiltration Angew.Chem. Int.Ed. 2018, 57,4083 –4087. [3] Gang Li, Kai Zhang, and Toshinori Tsuru, ACS Appl. Mater. Interfaces 2017, 9, 8433−8436.