Transforming Ti3C2Tx MXene’s intrinsic hydrophilicity into superhydrophobicity for efficient photothermal membrane desalination

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Original languageEnglish
Article number3315
Number of pages10
Journal / PublicationNature Communications
Volume13
Online published8 Jun 2022
Publication statusPublished - 2022

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Abstract

Owing to its 100% theoretical salt rejection capability, membrane distillation (MD) has emerged as a promising seawater desalination approach to address freshwater scarcity. Ideal MD requires high vapor permeate flux established by cross-membrane temperature gradient (ΔT) and excellent membrane durability. However, it’s difficult to maintain constant ΔT owing to inherent heat loss at feedwater side resulting from continuous water-to-vapor transition and prevent wetting transition-induced membrane fouling and scaling. Here, we develop a Ti3C2Tx MXene-engineered membrane that imparts efficient localized photo- thermal effect and strong water-repellency, achieving significant boost in freshwater pro- duction rate and stability. In addition to photothermal effect that circumvents heat loss, high electrically conductive Ti3C2Tx MXene also allows for self-assembly of uniform hierarchical polymeric nanospheres on its surface via electrostatic spraying, transforming intrinsic hydrophilicity into superhydrophobicity. This interfacial engineering renders energy-efficient and hypersaline-stable photothermal membrane distillation with a high water production rate under one sun irradiation.

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