Research ArticleAPPLIED SCIENCES AND ENGINEERING

Large-scale, robust mushroom-shaped nanochannel array membrane for ultrahigh osmotic energy conversion

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Science Advances  19 May 2021:
Vol. 7, no. 21, eabg2183
DOI: 10.1126/sciadv.abg2183

Abstract

The osmotic energy, a large-scale clean energy source, can be converted to electricity directly by ion-selective membranes. None of the previously reported membranes meets all the crucial demands of ultrahigh power density, excellent mechanical stability, and upscaled fabrication. Here, we demonstrate a large-scale, robust mushroom-shaped (with stem and cap) nanochannel array membrane with an ultrathin selective layer and ultrahigh pore density, generating the power density up to 22.4 W·m−2 at a 500-fold salinity gradient, which is the highest value among those of upscaled membranes. The stem parts are a negative-charged one-dimensional (1D) nanochannel array with a density of ~1011 cm−2, deriving from a block copolymer self-assembly; while the cap parts, as the selective layer, are formed by chemically grafted single-molecule–layer hyperbranched polyethyleneimine equivalent to tens of 1D nanochannels per stem. The membrane design strategy provides a promising approach for large-scale osmotic energy conversion.

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