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Carbon Nanomembranes with Sub-Nanometer Channels for Molecular Separation in Organic Liquids


Energy efficiency is a key principle of the EU’s 2020 strategy for smart, sustainable and inclusive growth, and implementation of this strategy requires innovation in energy intensive industries. Organic solvent nanofiltration (OSN) meets this need—it is a membrane-based separation with the potential to achieve more than 90% energy savings over conventional distillation in the energy intensive chemical industry. Current challenges for OSN are the need for materials with high flux, high selectivity and high chemical resistance. This proposal advocates meeting this need by constructing a membrane with: i) an ultrathin selective layer, ii) uniform pore sizes and iii) a cross-linked network. Carbon nanomembranes (CNMs) are 2D materials made by crosslinking of self-assembled monolayers; this results in a film with single-molecule thickness. CNMs mainly comprise carbon, resulting in chemically-stable separating layers. Also, their molecular structure is tunable by synthesis with purpose-designed molecules. Recently, the Fellow was part of the team which created the first 1.2-nm thin CNM with a high density of sub-nm channels, providing ultrafast permeation of water while blocking the passage of most other molecules.
This project will combine the Fellow’s expertise in the development of single-molecule-thick films with the host’s expertise in OSN and interfacial synthesis; it aims to design new nanomaterials for advancing molecular separation in organic liquids. The objectives of the project are to: 1) demonstrate the ability of freestanding CNMs for OSN; 2) explore the tunability of CNMs at a molecular level for improved selectivity; 3) create nanocomposite membranes comprising interfacially synthesized mesoporous films supporting CNM separating layers.
This highly innovative and interdisciplinary research will promote the Fellow’s career prospects by widening her research perspectives, enriching her research experiences and expanding her network with European colleagues.

Field of science

  • /engineering and technology/materials engineering/coating and films
  • /humanities/arts/modern and contemporary art/film
  • /engineering and technology/environmental engineering/waste management/energy efficiency
  • /engineering and technology/nanotechnology/nano-materials

Call for proposal

See other projects for this call

Funding Scheme

MSCA-IF-EF-ST - Standard EF


South Kensington Campus Exhibition Road
SW7 2AZ London
United Kingdom
Activity type
Higher or Secondary Education Establishments
EU contribution
€ 224 933,76