GOHAL! sustainable membranes for alcohol dehydration

Research output: Contribution to book/anthology/report/conference proceedingConference abstract in proceedingResearch


The rise of graphene oxide (GO) has unlocked a new exciting direction in the development of nanofiltration, desalination and pervaporation membranes. However, there are still high concerns about GO at basic pH and under cross-flow conditions. GO stabilization can be achieved by thermal or chemical reduction; but stacked layers of reduced GO (rGO) tend to form ordered and compact graphite-like structures, thus preventing permeation. Here, a humic acid-like biopolymer (HAL), extracted from organic compost with a yield of ~ 20%, was used to fabricate composite GO-HAL membranes [1]. Both GO and HAL consist of a carbon backbone functionalized with oxygen-containing moieties; but GO dispersions are made of 2D layers with monoatomic thickness, while dispersed HAL macromolecules have a 3D branched structure. We fabricated GO-HAL membranes with HAL contents ranging from 0 to 30 w% by the drop-casting method. Upon thermal stabilization, HAL brings a high degree of disorder to the membrane structure, with the benefit of an increased water permeation rate. The membrane with a biopolymer loading of 30% presented an ideal water/ethanol selectivity of 45 and a water permeance that is 33% higher than the pristine graphene oxide membrane. The enhanced water permeability along with the good water/ethanol selectivity makes the GO-HAL membranes promising devices for alcohol dehydration technologies. This study provides a new basis for the rational design of the future generation of GO-based membranes and offers a new perspective in the exploitation of organic urban waste as source of versatile building blocks in the development of new nanostructured membrane materials. This research was made possible by the financial support from the Danish Council for Independent Research (DFF–6111–00151) and by Mat4Treat, H2020-MSCA-RISE-2014 (n. 64555).

[1] V. Boffa et. al., Carbon-based building blocks for alcohol dehydration membranes with disorder-enhanced water permeability, Carbon, under review.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationProceeding of the 2017 International Congress on Membranes and Membrane Processes
Publication date2017
Article number07.55
Publication statusPublished - 2017
Event2017 International Congress on Membranes and Membrane Processes - http://www.icom2017.org/, San Francisco, United States
Duration: 30 Jul 20174 Aug 2017


Conference2017 International Congress on Membranes and Membrane Processes
Country/TerritoryUnited States
CitySan Francisco
Internet address


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