Preparation of novel special wettable materials for water remediation
Date of Issue2017
Interdisciplinary Graduate School
Nanyang Environment and Water Research Institute
Materials with special wettability have attracted tremendous research attention in recent decades in many fields of applications, such as energy storage and conversion, medicine and healthcare, nanoparticle synthesis and environment remediation. Particularly, the special wettable material has been regarded as one of the most promising materials for water remediation and purification, due to its controllable affinity towards water and various water contaminants. Thanks to the extensive research effort, significant progress has been achieved in the fundamental understanding of the surface wetting phenomenon, the synthesis of special wettable materials, and the potential applications in various fields. The practical implementation of such materials requires the development of novel materials from low-cost precursors through sustainable preparation methods, which unfortunately has not been sufficiently explored and researched. In this thesis, I will present my research works on two novel low-cost and sustainable special wettable materials, and demonstrate their promising application in oily water remediation. The mainly adopted material development strategy is to convert waste materials into functional special wettable materials. In the first project, a novel hydrophobic and oleophilic carbon aerogel is developed using waste pomelo peels as raw materials. The resulted carbon aerogels possess a three-dimensional interconnected porous structure with light density. The carbon aerogels are used as absorbents to selectively absorb water-immiscible oils and organics from oil/water mixtures. The low-cost and sustainable preparation approach and the high oil absorption capacity make the carbon aerogel a promising material for cleaning up oil spills. In the second project, a novel inorganic superhydrophilic and underwater superoleophobic mesh is developed using waste soda-lime glass as starting material. Due to the high surface tension and surface roughness, the resulted mesh shows high affinity toward water in air, and extremely low affinity toward oils under water. Therefore, it can selectively and continuously separate oil/water mixtures through filtration by allowing water permeation while blocking oils. In addition, the as-developed inorganic mesh shows the excellent stability against various harsh environments and the multifunctional water remediation characteristics, making it highly promising for practical water remediation applications.