Nanocomposite hydrogel engineered hierarchical membranes for efficient oil/water separation and heavy metal removal

Linlin Yan, Xiaobin Yang*, Haoze Zeng, Yuanyuan Zhao, Yangxue Li, Xuezhong He, Jun Ma, Lu Shao*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

68 Scopus citations


The contaminants of oily sewage and heavy metal ions have been increasingly released into the aquatic environment, which causes a severe threat to both ecosystem and human health. However, it is still difficult to use a single separation technology to effectively deal with such a complex hazardous system to ensure the water safety and environmental remediation. Herein, a novel nanocomposite hydrogel-coated membrane was designed by one-step dip-coating of tannic acid (TA)/sodium alginate (SA)/3-aminopropyltriethoxysilane (APTES) co-depositing strategy, which combines the robust adhesion of TA, the hierarchical architecture induced by APTES and the strong hydration ability of SA. The as-prepared membrane exhibits excellent hydrophilicity and underwater superoleophobicity, which achieves efficient separation for various oil/water emulsions and outstanding anti-oil fouling performance. Meanwhile, the excellent heavy metal adsorption capacity was realized due to the abundant adsorption sites (-COO-, –NH2 and phenolic hydroxyl) and large surface area caused by hierarchical structures. Most interestingly, the fabricated membrane also presented strong chemical stability over a wide pH range 3–11, high salt tolerance and good resistance to anhydrous ethanol corrosion. The designed superwetting membranes show great potential for the purification of oil/water emulsion and the removal of heavy metal ions to effectively remediate the aquatic environment by the concept of ‘killing two birds by one stone’.

Original languageEnglish
Article number121243
JournalJournal of Membrane Science
StatePublished - 15 Feb 2023


  • Anti-oil-fouling
  • Oil/water separation
  • Pb adsorption
  • Superwetting membrane
  • Water treatment


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