Volume 6, August 2018， Pages 289-298
Nanostructured three-dimensional percolative channels for separation of oil-in-water emulsions
Jian Jin，Xiaoli Zhao，Yong-Hua Du，Mei Ding，Chengjie Xiang， Ning Yan，Chuankun Jia*，Zheng Han*，Lidong Sun*
Separation of oil/water mixtures has been one of the leading green technologies for applications such as oil recovery and water purification. Conventional methods to separate oil from water are based on phase separation via physical settlement or distillation. However, challenges still remain in the effective extraction of micron-sized oil droplets dispersed in water, in which case gravity fails to work as separating force. Here, we conformably decorate porous titanium (average pore size 30 mm) with superhydrophilic nanotubes. The resulting three-dimensional superhydrophilic micro channels thus provide a driving force for oil-water separation at the nanotube/emulsion interface, enhancing significantly the water infiltration rate. The high efficiency (>99.95%, with oil droplets of average diameter 10 mm) and strong mechanical durability make the structure a reusable oil/water separator. Our findings pave the way for future applications of oil-in-water emulsion separation, which can be readily scaled up for massive demulsification.