Hydrophobic polyamide nanofilms provide rapid transport for crude oil separation

by S. LI, R. Dong, V. E. Musteata, J. Kim, N. D. Rangnekar, J. R. Johnson, B. D. Marshall, S. Chisca, B. A. McCool, S. P. Nunes, Z. Jiang, A. G. Livingston
Journal Article Year: 2022 DOI: 10.1126/science.abq0598

Extra Information

Science, Vol 377, Issue 6614, pp. 1555-1561


Hydrocarbon separation relies on energy-intensive distillation. Membrane technology can offer an energy-efficient alternative but requires selective differentiation of crude oil molecules with rapid liquid transport. We synthesized multiblock oligomer amines, which comprised a central amine segment with two hydrophobic oligomer blocks, and used them to fabricate hydrophobic polyamide nanofilms by interfacial polymerization from self-assembled vesicles. These polyamide nanofilms provide transport of hydrophobic liquids more than 100 times faster than that of conventional hydrophilic counterparts. In the fractionation of light crude oil, manipulation of the film thickness down to ~10 nanometers achieves permeance one order of magnitude higher than that of current state-of-the-art hydrophobic membranes while retaining comparable size- and class-based separation. This high permeance can markedly reduce plant footprint, which expands the potential for using membranes made of ultrathin nanofilms in crude oil fractionation.


Crude oil Polyamide Self-assembly