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Mechanically Robust Hydrophobized Double Network Hydrogels for Water Purification

preprint
submitted on 15.04.2021, 19:25 and posted on 16.04.2021, 12:47 by Marshall Allen, Rahul Sujanani, Alyssa Chamseddine, Benny Freeman, Zachariah Page
Water swollen polymer networks are attractive for applications ranging from tissue regeneration to water purification. For water purification, charged polymers provide excellent ion separation properties. However, many ion exchange membranes (IEMs) are brittle, necessitating the use of thick support materials that ultimately decrease throughput. To this end, a series of double network hydrogels (DNHs), synthesized with varied composition to decrease water content, are examined as robust membrane materials for water purification. One network contains fixed anionic charges, while the other comprises a copolymer with different ratios of hydrophobic ethyl acrylate (EA) and hydrophilic dimethyl acrylamide (DMA) repeat units. Characterizing water content and mechanical performance in free standing DNH films reveals a ~5× decrease in water content, while increasing ultimate stress and strain by ~3.5× and ~4.5× for 90:5 EA:DMA relative to pure DMA. Salt transport properties relevant to water purification, including permeability, solubility, and diffusivity, are measured and show improved performance upon reducing water content. Overall, the ability to simultaneously reduce water content, increase mechanical integrity, and decrease salt transport rates highlights the potential of DNHs for membrane applications.

Funding

Center for Materials for Water and Energy Systems

Basic Energy Sciences

Find out more...

National Science Foundation, Grant No. DMR-2045336

Robert A. Welch Foundation, Grant No. F-2007

Robert A. Welch Foundation, Grant No.F-1924-20170325

History

Email Address of Submitting Author

zpage@utexas.edu

Institution

The University of Texas at Austin

Country

United States

ORCID For Submitting Author

0000-0002-1013-5422

Declaration of Conflict of Interest

There are no conflicts to declare

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