2023 journal article

Oil-Water Separation using Synthetic Trees

LANGMUIR, 39(7), 2520–2528.

By: N. Eyegheleme, V. Umashankar, D. Miller, A. Kota* & J. Boreyko

Source: Web Of Science
Added: March 20, 2023

Existing oil-water filtration techniques require gravity or a pump as the driving force for separation. Here, we demonstrate transpiration-powered oil-water filtration using a synthetic tree, which operates pumplessly and against gravity. From top to bottom, our synthetic tree was composed of: a nanoporous "leaf" to generate suction via evaporation, a vertical array of glass tubes serving as the tree's xylem conduits, and filters attached to the tube inlets to act as the oil-excluding roots. When placing the tree in an oil emulsion bath, filtrate samples were measured to be 97-98% pure water using gravimetry and refractometry. The spontaneous oil-water separation offered by synthetic trees could be useful for applications such as oil spill cleanup, wastewater purification, and oil extraction.