Developing low-cost, durable, and high-performance materials for the separation of water/oil mixtures (free oil/water mixtures and emulsions) is critical to wastewater treatment and resource recovery. However, this currently remains a challenge. In this work, we report a biopolymer microfiber assembly, fabricated from the recovery of tissue waste, as a low-cost and high-performance filter for oily wastewater treatment. The microfiber filters demonstrate superhydrophilicity (water contact angle of 28.8°) and underwater superoleophobicity (oil contact angle of 154.2°), and thus can achieve separation efficiencies of >96% for both free oil/water mixtures and surfactant-stabilized emulsions even in highly acidic (pH 2.2)/alkaline (pH 11.8) conditions. Additionally, the prepared microfiber filters possess a much higher resistance to oil fouling than conventional membranes when filtering emulsions, which is because the large-sized 3D interconnected channels of the filters can delay the formation of a low-porosity oil gel layer on their surface. The filters are expected to practically apply for the oily wastewater treatment and reduce the amount of tissue waste entering the environment.
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