Hydrophobic porous polypropylene with hierarchical structures for ultrafast and highly selective oil/water separation

March 23, 2021

Yifeng Huang (1,2), Teodora Gancheva (3), Basil D. Favis (3), Abdelnasser Abidli (1), Jun Wang (1), Chul B. Park (1)
ACS Applied Materials & Interfaces, 13, Issue 14, March 2021: 16859–16868. DOI: 10.1021/acsami.0c21852


absorption; oil/water separation; hierarchically porous materials; trade-off correlation; water intrusion pressure


Recently, various porous absorbents have been developed and the in situ vacuum/pump-assisted continuous separation process has proven to be the most efficient technique to utilize those absorbents for oil spill cleanup. However, to achieve a high oil removal throughput, a high pumping pressure and/or large absorbent pore sizes are required, which would compromise the selectivity of oil/water separation, as water may penetrate the absorbent beyond a critical external pressure. In this work, this challenge has been circumvented by employing hierarchically porous polypropylene (PP) with controlled pore sizes generated from a tricontinuous heterophase polymer blend system. As compared to unimodal pores, the incorporation of the secondary smaller pores significantly enhances the oil removal throughput by up to 4–5 times without the necessity of raising the pumping pressure or increasing the diameter of the primary pores, which in turn, prevents compromising the oil/water separation selectivity

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Author Affiliation

(1) Microcellular Plastics Manufacturing Laboratory, Department of Mechanical and Industrial Engineering, University of Toronto, Toronto, Ontario M5S 3G8, Canada.
(2) State Key Laboratory of Urban Water Resource and Environment, Harbin Institute of Technology, Harbin, Heilongjiang 150090, China.
(3) CREPEC, Department of Chemical Engineering, École Polytechnique de Montréal, Montréal, Québec H3C 3A7, Canada.