Polymer Nanocomposites for Oil-water Separation

P-C Ma
The Xinjiang Technical Institute of Physics and Chemistry, Chinese Academy of Sciences,

Keywords: polymer nanocomposites, oil-water separation, adsorption, hierarchical structures


With ever-increasing production and usage of petroleum products, oil spillage and chemical leakage occur frequently worldwide every year. Water pollution arising from these accidents has led to severe environmental and ecological problems. Therefore, materials that can effectively adsorb and transfer spilled oils and organic solvents from water are in urgently needed. Generally, an ideal adsorbent material is in characteristic of high adsorption capacity, high selectivity, low density, excellent recyclability and environmental friendliness. Additionally, the collection and reusage of adsorbents with saturated oil adsorption become a major concern for their practical applications. This paper will present our recent progress on developing nanocomposites with multi-functionalities for efficient adsorption of oil and organic liquids on water surface. Materials with hierarchical structures derived from polymers and natural materials are prepared, and their morphologies are controlled and optimized to endow the materials with outstanding oil adsorption capacity, high restoration for adsorbates as well as excellent recyclability and stability under cyclic operations. The advantages of nanocomposites for oil-water separation are manifested by comparing their cost, adsorption capacity and applicability with those of commercial products. Prototype oil collectors using nanocomposites as key component will also be presented.