Douglas Gin and Richard Noble have developed a novel filtration membrane based on the polymerization of lyotropic liquid crystals (LLCs) that contains ordered, densely packed, size-tunable pores of uniform size. These new LLC membranes have pore sizes on the order of 0.5-2 nm. The resulting size-selectivity of these membranes enables high, predictable rejection of dissolved ions (salts, in particular) from water as well as a number of organic molecular solutes.
These research groups have refined, simplified, and reduced the cost of LLC monomer synthesis, and have also demonstrated that LLC membranes can be modified by inorganic atomic layer deposition (ALD) to reduce pore size and, optionally, alter the chemical selectivity of the membrane.For instance, an LLC membrane modified in this way can be used to separate smaller gas particles like (O2 from N2) and (H2 from CH2) with a potential use in coal fired plants to feed pure O2 into the furnace, making the process more efficient and yielding a pure outgas stream of CO2 which would enable easier sequestration.
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