Aspects of Polymeric-Based Membranes in the Water Treatment Field: An Interim Structural Analysis
2. Principles of a Solar-Driven Interfacial Evaporation (SDIE) System
2.1. Key Components in Design and Their Main Attributes
- A solar absorber that can take in solar energy, convert it to heat, and still allow vapor to pass through the front face.
- A floating evaporation structure that may increase the evaporation rate and, in tandem, deliver water to the heated region.
2.2. Membranes as Solar Absorbers for Solar Steam Generation
2.3. Membranes as an Integrated Structure for Water Evaporation
2.4. Importance of Efficient Structural Design for Thermal Energy Localization
2.5. Evaporation Rate and SDIE Efficiency Measurements
3. Development of Electrospinning Technique for Membrane Fabrication
3.1. Methods, Materials, Components, and Mechanism
3.2. Preliminary Results for Establishing the Process Parameter for Fabricating the Membrane Material in the Present Research
3.3. Characteristics of Electrospun Nanofibrous Membranes
4. Application of a Solar-Driven Interfacial Evaporation System
- Guo et al.  developed graphene oxide (GO) functionalized with polyvinyl alcohol (PVA) electrospun nanofiber membranes. The GO/PVA electrospun nanofiber membranes possess good photothermal desalination efficiency due to their extreme hydrophilicity, which could ensure continuous water supply. The light absorption efficiency reached up to 94%, and the optimal evaporation rate could achieve 1.42 kg m−2 h−1.
- Li et al.  have prepared electrospun nanofiber membranes of hydrophilic polymethylmethacrylate (PMAA) with silica and GO/CNT. The top layer of GO/CNT is sprayed on a PMAA/silica nanofiber membrane. A silica electrospun nanofiber membrane with low thermal conductivity can pump water continuously; meanwhile, the GO/CNT hybrid layer can localize heat energy and generate water vapor. The evaporation rate reached 1.3 kg m−2 h−1 with 74% efficiency.
- Xu et al.  fabricated electrospun nanofiber membranes of PAN and PMMA, followed by spray deposition of CB nanoparticles. The two layers are the upper nanoparticle CB coating of PMMA as a solar absorber layer and for water evaporation, and the bottom hydrophilic PAN layer for pumping water. The evaporation rate result was 1.3 kg m−2 h−1 with a conversion efficiency of 72%.
- Another recent study by Ding et al.  has prepared two layers of polylactic acid (PLA) electrospun nanofiber membranes loaded with Chinese ink nanoparticles and lower modified (hydrophilic) PLA (2 wt% Chinese ink/PLA-PLA). They used modified hydrophilic PAN as a transport layer for pumping water. The result showed that the evaporation rate reached up to 1.29 kg m−2 h−1 with 81% SDIE efficiency.
- Zhu et al.  designed and prepared flexible and washable CNT-embedded PAN electrospun nanofiber membranes. The CNT-PAN exhibits high hydrophilicity, which could ensure continuous water supply. The system has a photoabsorption efficiency of 90.8% with a high seawater evaporation rate of 1.44 kg m–2 h–1.
- In addition, another study by Fan et al.  has prepared reduced graphene oxide (rGO) composited with PAN membrane by the electrospinning method. The rGO/PAN membrane presented good advantages in heat localization and high evaporation efficiency. The membrane converts 89.4% of the light into heat, allowing 1.46 kg m−2 h−1 of seawater to evaporate.
- Jin et al.  have studied PAN, Polystyrene (PS), and nylon 6 nanofibers as matrices and inorganic CB nanoparticles inside the matrix as light-absorbing components. The photothermal membrane with an optimized carbon loading exhibits desirable underwater black properties, absorbing 94% of the solar spectrum. The result is an evaporation rate of 1.24 kg m−2 h−1 with 83% efficiency.
- Qi et al.  have fabricated a silicon dioxide/carboxylated multi-walled carbon nanotube/polyacrylonitrile (SiO2/MWCNTs-COOH/PAN) nanofiber membrane. After that, the interfacial water evaporator is assembled by attaching it to a piece of filter paper with insulated (PS) foam used as a support layer and cotton yarns (CYs) used for water transportation. As a result, the composite nanofiber membrane presented an evaporation rate capacity of 1.28 kg m−2 h−1 with a photothermal conversion efficiency of 82.52%.
- Wu et al.  have also prepared porous carbonaceous membranes that consist of continuous ultrafine carbon nanofibers. This membrane has hydrophilic properties and continuous channels for sufficient water supply. The prepared carbonaceous membranes can absorb 95% of the solar spectrum and have an evaporation rate capacity of 1.33 kg m−2 h−1 with 81.71% SDIE efficiency.
- Wu et al.  have reported the incorporation of AuNCs into electrospun nanofibers of PVDF. The surface of PVDF became hydrophilic after being treated with oxygen plasma, so AuNC/PVDF nanofibers can easily pump and evaporate the water. As a result, the evaporation rate reached up to 1.27 kg m−2 h−1 with 79.8% efficiency.
- Chala et al.  have prepared reduced tungsten oxide/polylactic acid (WO2.72/PLA) nanofiber membranes. The WO2.72/PLA nanofiber membranes are floatable on water due to their surface hydrophobicity. The water evaporation efficiency reached 81.39%.
- In addition, Gao et al.  have prepared two layers of an upper (CB) coating with (a PAN) layer and a lower (PVDF) layer (CB/PAN/PVDF). They used the hydrophobic PVDF with punched holes for water transport due to the capillary effect. The hydrophilic CB/PAN composite nanofiber layer on top has a high broadband solar absorption of 98.6%. The assembled CB/PAN/PVDF has an evaporation rate capacity of 1.2 kg m−2 h−1.
- Meng et al.  have studied ultra-light three-dimensional aerogels assembled by hierarchical Al2O3/TiO2 nanofibers and (rGO). The hydrophilic Al2O3/TiO2 nanofibrous channels are linked up with the graphene hot spots and bulk water for sufficient water transport and bulk water insulation. Meanwhile, the Al2O3/TiO2 layer can localize the heat energy and generate steam. The evaporation rate of introducing Al2O3/TiO2 nanofibers into rGO reached 2.19 kg m−2 h−1.
|#||Materials||Morphology of Fibrous Membrane (Diameter, Porosity, and Alignment)||Light Absorbance (Wavelength Range)||Evaporation Rate|
(kg m−2 h−1) and Efficiency (%)
|1||Upper and lower layers of polymethylmethacrylate (PMMA) and polyacrylonitrile (PAN) are coated with carbon black nanoparticles (CB).||97%|
|1.3 with 72% efficiency|||
|2||Chinese ink nanoparticles are embedded in two layers of PLA fibrous membrane, along with less modified (hydrophilic) PLA.|
(2 wt% Chinese ink/PLA-PLA)
|1.29 with 81% efficiency|||
|3||Graphene oxide-functionalized PVA electrospun nanofibrous membrane ||94%|
|4||CNT-Embedded PAN nonwoven fabrics||90.8%|
|1.44 with 90% efficiency|||
|5||Polyacrylonitrile (PAN), polystyrene (PS), and nylon 6 nanofibers as a matrix and inorganic carbon black (CB) nanoparticles inside the matrix as light-absorbing components||94%|
|1.24 with 83% efficiency|||
|6||Membrane composed of silicon dioxide, carboxylated multi-walled carbon nanotubes, and polyacrylonitrile (SiO2/MWCNTs-COOH/PAN)||96.52%|
|1.28 with 82.52% efficiency|||
|7||Porous carbonaceous membrane||95%|
|1.33 with 81.71% efficiency|||
|8||Reduced graphene oxide (rGO)/polyacrylonitrile (PAN) composite membrane ||89.4%|
|9||Polydimethylsiloxane/carbon nanotube/poly (vinylidene fluoride) (PDMS/CNT/PVDF) membrane ||92%||1.43|||
|10||Gold nanocages (AuNCs)/Poly (vinylidene fluoride) (PVDF)||AuNCs range: (400–1200 nm)||1.27 with 79.8% efficiency|||
|11||Tungsten oxide/Polylactic acid (WO2.72/PLA) fiber membranes||(300–2500 nm)||81.39% efficiency|||
|12||Two layers of upper carbon black nanoparticles (CB) coating the polyacrylonitrile (PAN) layer and lower polyvinylidene fluoride (PVDF) layer|
|13||PMAA/Silica nanofiber membrane and GO/CNT|
A top layer of GO/CNT sprayed on PMAA/Silicon nanofiber membrane
|1.3 with 74% efficiency|||
|14||Hierarchical Al2O3/TiO2 nanofibers and reduced graphene oxide (RGO)||Not reported||2.19|||
|15||Rubidium tungsten bronze and recycled triacetate cellulose (RbxWO3/rTAC) porous fiber membranes||(300–2200 nm)||90.4 ± 2.1% efficiency|||
5. Challenges and Future Work
- The optimized PAN nanofibrous membrane was successfully fabricated using the electrospinning technique.
- The definition and components of SDIE have been discussed.
- The process parameters of electrospinning, such as the applied voltage, the distance between the needle and collector, the flow rate, etc., significantly affect the nanofiber morphology, and by manipulating these parameters, one can get the characteristics desired for SDIE application.
- Our experimental results from the electrospinning setup for fabricating the membrane were also validated.
- Following SEM characterization revealed that during the electrospinning method, the flow rate of the aqueous solutions has a stronger influence on the fiber diameter and structural morphology of electrospun nanofibers.
- At lower flow rates of PAN solutions, the electron-spun fabricated fibers showed irregular morphology with large variation in fiber diameter, whereas at the optimum flow rate of 0.8 mL/h, the electron-spun fiber exhibited very few beads and the resulting nanofibers had a diameter in the range of 304–394 nm.
- The outlook and challenges for the various types of electrospun nanofiber membranes used in SDIE applications have also been summarized for associated future works.
Data Availability Statement
Conflicts of Interest
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|Voltage (kV)||Distance (cm)||Flow Rate (mL/h)|
|1||15||15||0.5||More beads and defect; small nanofibers with a diameter and range (225–342 nm) (Figure 3A)|
|2||18||18||1||Fewer beads, nanofiber diameter and range (248–362 nm) (Figure 3B)|
|3||20||18||0.8||Well-uniform fibers, very few beads, nanofiber diameters in the range (304–394 nm), and optimum conditions (Figure 3C,D)|
|Analysis Technique||Principle||Pore Size on Nanofiber Surface||Pore Size on a Nanofiber Membrane||Porosity Rate|
|Building a 3D image of a sample by scanning its surface with an electron beam.||Yes (limited)||Yes, but on the top surface only||No|
|ARM||A sharp probe scans a sample surface at a distance over which atomic forces act. The forces between the tip and sample are the cantilever deflection, and from this information, a map of the sample topography can create.||Yes||No (ability decreases with increasing pore diameter)||No|
|Undertaken by mixing a known volume of gas—typically nitrogen—with a solid substance in a sample vessel while the temperature is kept below freezing. The gas molecules will adsorb onto a solid material as a result of weak molecular attractive forces. The amount of vapor adsorbed at a pressure significantly below the equilibrium vapor pressure is used to calculate surface area. The amount of vapor condensed in pores as a function of vapor pressure is used to calculate the pore volume and diameter.||Yes||No (only pores up to 200 nm can be detected)||Yes (only fiber porosity)|
|Intrusion Porosimetry (Mercury Porosimetry)||By increasing the external pressure and driving liquid mercury into pores, pore information is collected. To determine the pore structures, this information is combined with data on the contact angle.||No (requires through pores)||Yes||Yes|
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Ijaz, M.F.; Alharbi, H.F.; Alsaggaf, A.Z.; Assaifan, A.K. Aspects of Polymeric-Based Membranes in the Water Treatment Field: An Interim Structural Analysis. Water 2023, 15, 1114. https://doi.org/10.3390/w15061114
Ijaz MF, Alharbi HF, Alsaggaf AZ, Assaifan AK. Aspects of Polymeric-Based Membranes in the Water Treatment Field: An Interim Structural Analysis. Water. 2023; 15(6):1114. https://doi.org/10.3390/w15061114Chicago/Turabian Style
Ijaz, Muhammad Farzik, Hamad F. Alharbi, Ahmed Zaki Alsaggaf, and Abdulaziz K. Assaifan. 2023. "Aspects of Polymeric-Based Membranes in the Water Treatment Field: An Interim Structural Analysis" Water 15, no. 6: 1114. https://doi.org/10.3390/w15061114