NEW DELHI: Researchers at the Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) Guwahati have developed two distinct and special membranes that can separate oil and water, even under harsh conditions. These membranes are super-water repellent in air and super oil-repellent in water. These can separate complex mixtures of oil and water at practically relevant settings. This kind of separation is important in environmental applications like oil spill management.
The research was undertaken by Uttam Manna at Department of Chemistry, IIT Guwahati along with his research team Avijit Das, Dibyangana Parbat and Arpita Shome. Their work recently been published in ACS Sustainable Chemistry & Engineering, the institute shared in a release.
The team has also developed a prototype of oil-water separation device using these membranes such that the separated oil and water were simultaneously collected in different containers.
“Oil-water separation is of current relevance because many industries, such as mining, textiles, food and petrochemicals, produce massive volumes of oily wastewater, which must be treated before discharge,” Manna said.
“There is yet another problem with conventional demonstration, where the superhydrophobic and superoleophobic materials are mostly used for two phase oil/water mixtures. However, those approaches are inappropriate for separation of three-phase mixtures of heavy oil, light oil and water,” he said.