High rejection stacked single-layer graphene membranes for water treatment

M Laurenti and M Fontana and F Raffone and A Pellegrino and S Bianco and E Tresso and CF Pirri and G Cicero, 2D MATERIALS, 10, 045002 (2023).

DOI: 10.1088/2053-1583/ace45b

Nowadays, the production of pure water from saltwater and wastewater is one of the most challenging issues. Polymeric materials represent, at the moment, the best solution for membranes technology but new materials with improved functionalities are desirable to overcome the typical limitations of polymers. In this work, graphene membranes with superior filtration properties are fabricated by stacking up to three graphene layers on a porous support and exploiting the intrinsic nanopores of graphene to filter diclofenac (drug), and methylene blue (dye). The rejection improves increasing the number of the stacked graphene layers, with the best results obtained with three graphene layers. Mass diffusion properties depend on the size of the probe molecule, consistently with the existence of intrinsic nanometer-sized pores within graphene. From the results of an in depth transmission electron microscopy analysis and molecular dynamics simulations it is inferred that graphene stacking results in a decrease of effective membrane pore sizes to about 13 & ANGS; diameter which corresponds to 97% rejection for diclofenac and methylene blue after one hour filtration.

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