Abstract: Polymeric micelles with a controlled size in the range between 41 and 80 nm were prepared by injecting the organic phase through a microengineered nickel membrane or a tapered-end glass capillary into an aqueous phase. The organic phase was composed of 1 mg·mL−1 of PEG-b-PCL diblock copolymers with variable molecular weights, dissolved in tetrahydrofuran (THF) or acetone. The pore size of the membrane was 20 μm and the aqueous/organic phase volumetric flow rate ratio ranged from 1.5 to 10. Block copolymers were successfully synthesized with Mn ranging from ~9700 to 16,000 g·mol−1 and polymeric micelles were successfully produced from both devices. Micelles produced from the membrane device were smaller than those produced from the microfluidic device, due to the much smaller pore size compared with the orifice size in a co-flow device. The micelles were found to be relatively stable in terms of their size with an initial decrease in size attributed to evaporation of residual solvent rather than their structural disintegration. Fluconazole was loaded into the cores of micelles by injecting the organic phase composed of 0.5–2.5 mg·mL−1 fluconazole and 1.5 mg·mL−1 copolymer. The size of the drug-loaded micelles was found to be significantly larger than the size of empty micelles.
Abstract: In this work, mixed matrix membranes (MMMs) composed of small-pore zeolites with various topologies (CHA (Si/Al = 5), LTA (Si/Al = 1 and 5), and Rho (Si/Al = 5)) as dispersed phase, and the hugely permeable poly(1-trimethylsilyl-1-propyne) (PTMSP) as continuous phase, have been synthesized via solution casting, in order to obtain membranes that could be attractive for oxygen-enriched air production. The O2/N2 gas separation performance of the MMMs has been analyzed in terms of permeability, diffusivity, and solubility in the temperature range of 298–333 K. The higher the temperature of the oxygen-enriched stream, the lower the energy required for the combustion process. The effect of temperature on the gas permeability, diffusivity, and solubility of these MMMs is described in terms of the Arrhenius and Van’t Hoff relationships with acceptable accuracy. Moreover, the O2/N2 permselectivity of the MMMs increases with temperature, the O2/N2 selectivities being considerably higher than those of the pure PTMSP. In consequence, most of the MMMs prepared in this work exceeded the Robeson’s upper bound for the O2/N2 gas pair in the temperature range under study, with not much decrease in the O2 permeabilities, reaching O2/N2 selectivities of up to 8.43 and O2 permeabilities up to 4,800 Barrer at 333 K.
Abstract: This work provides additional insights into the identification of operating conditions necessary to overcome a current limitation to the scale-up of the breath figure method, which is regarded as an outstanding manufacturing approach for structurally ordered porous films. The major restriction concerns, indeed, uncontrolled touching droplets at the boundary. Herein, the bulk of polymeric solutions are properly managed to generate honeycomb membranes with a long-range structurally ordered texture. Water uptake and dynamics are explored as chemical environments are changed with the intent to modify the hydrophilic/hydrophobic balance and local water floatation. In this context, a model surfactant such as the polyoxyethylene sorbitan monolaurate is used in combination with alcohols at different chain length extents and a traditional polymer such as the polyethersufone. Changes in the interfacial tension and kinematic viscosity taking place in the bulk of composite solutions are explored and examined in relation to competitive droplet nucleation and growth rate. As a result, extensive structurally ordered honeycomb textures are obtained with the rising content of the surfactant while a broad range of well-sized pores is targeted as a function of the hydrophilic-hydrophobic balance and viscosity of the composite polymeric mixture. The experimental findings confirm the consistency of the approach and are expected to give propulsion to the commercially production of breath figures films shortly.
Abstract: In microfluidics and other microstructured devices, wettability changes, as a result of component interactions with the solid wall, can have dramatic effects. In emulsion separation and emulsification applications, the desired behavior can even be completely lost. Wettability changes also occur in one phase systems, but the effect is much more far-reaching when using two-phase systems. For microfluidic emulsification devices, this can be elegantly demonstrated and quantified for EDGE (Edge-base Droplet GEneration) devices that have a specific behavior that allows us to distinguish between surfactant and liquid interactions with the solid surface. Based on these findings, design rules can be defined for emulsification with any micro-structured emulsification device, such as direct and premix membrane emulsification. In general, it can be concluded that mostly surface interactions increase the contact angle toward 90°, either through the surfactant, or the oil that is used. This leads to poor process stability, and very limited pressure ranges at which small droplets can be made in microfluidic systems, and cross-flow membrane emulsification. In a limited number of cases, surface interactions can also lead to lower contact angles, thereby increasing the operational stability. This paper concludes with a guideline that can be used to come to the appropriate combination of membrane construction material (or any micro-structured device), surfactants and liquids, in combination with process conditions.
Abstract: Biophenols are highly prized for their free radical scavenging and antioxidant activities. Olive mill wastewaters (OMWWs) are rich in biophenols. For this reason, there is a growing interest in the recovery and valorization of these compounds. Applications for the encapsulation have increased in the food industry as well as the pharmaceutical and cosmetic fields, among others. Advancements in micro-fabrication methods are needed to design new functional particles with target properties in terms of size, size distribution, and functional activity. This paper describes the use of the membrane emulsification method for the fine-tuning of microparticle production with biofunctional activity. In particular, in this pioneering work, membrane emulsification has been used as an advanced method for biophenols encapsulation. Catechol has been used as a biophenol model, while a biophenols mixture recovered from OMWWs were used as a real matrix. Water-in-oil emulsions with droplet sizes approximately 2.3 times the membrane pore diameter, a distribution span of 0.33, and high encapsulation efficiency (98% ± 1% and 92% ± 3%, for catechol and biophenols, respectively) were produced. The release of biophenols was also investigated.
Abstract: The objective of this research is to prepare and characterize a new and highly efficient polyamide TFC RO membrane by interfacial polymerization in dodecane solvent mixed with co-solvents. Three co-solvents were tested namely; acetone, ethyl acetate, and diethyl ether of concentration of 0.5, 1, 2, 3, and 5 wt %. The modified membranes were characterized by SEM, EDX, AFM and contact angle techniques. The results showed that addition of co-solvent results in a decrease in the roughness, pore size and thickness of the produced membranes. However, as the concentration of the co-solvent increases the pore size of the membranes gets larger. Among the three co-solvents tested, acetone was found to result in membranes with the largest pore size and contact angle followed by diethyl ether then ethyl acetate. Measured contact angle increases as the concentration of the co-solvent increases reaching a constant value except for ethyl acetate where it was found to drop. Investigating flux and salt rejection by the formulated membranes showed that higher flux was attained when acetone was used as a co-solvent followed by diethyl ether then ethyl acetate. However, the highest salt rejection was achieved with diethyl ether.