Fil­ters that use nanopar­ti­cles to pre­vent slime build-up

Chemical Industry Digest - - New Developments -

Re­searchers

at the Univer­sity of Penn­syl­va­nia’s School of Engi­neer­ing and Ap­plied Sci­ence have de­vel­oped a new way of mak­ing mem­branes that al­low them to add in a host of new abil­i­ties via func­tional nanopar­ti­cles that ad­here to the sur­face of the mesh. They tested this method by adding an­tifoul­ing par­ti­cle that could pre­vent biofilm build-up. The cur­rent stan­dard for mak­ing fil­ters is rel­a­tively straight­for­ward but doesn’t al­low for much in the way of giv­ing them ad­di­tional func­tion­al­ity. In bio­foul­ing, the bi­o­log­i­cal ma­te­rial they are sup­posed to fil­ter out -- in­clud­ing bac­te­ria and viruses-- gets stuck on the sur­face of the mesh, block­ing the pores with a slimy residue. Such biofilms re­duce the flow and can po­ten­tially con­tam­i­nate what­ever liq­uid makes it through to the other side of the fil­ter.

The re­searchers’ new mem­brane-mak­ing method re­lies on a spe­cial­ized type of liq­uid mix­ture known as a “bi­con­tin­u­ous in­ter­fa­cially jammed emul­sion gel,” or “bi­jel.” The method al­lows them to add in a host of new abil­i­ties via func­tional nanopar­ti­cles that ad­here to the sur­face of the mesh. The study was pub­lished in Na­ture Com­mu­ni­ca­tions.

The re­searchers im­bued their fil­ters with sil­ica

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