This is the fabrication of the polymeric synthetic membrane. Image: 2019 KAUST
In a world that seems to be drowning in plastic bottles, recycling this waste into useful materials would help to reduce its environmental impact. KAUST researchers have now invented a way to turn plastic bottles into porous membranes that could be used as molecular filters in the chemical industry.
Roughly 40 percent of the chemical industry's energy used goes into separating and purifying chemicals in heat-intensive processes, such as distillation and crystallization. Using porous membranes to separate molecules from liquids could dramatically reduce that energy consumption. But most conventional membranes are not robust enough to withstand the sort of solvents used in industry, and alternative ceramic membranes tend to be very expensive.
Pulido, B.A., Habboub, O., Aristizabal, S.L., Szekely, G. & Nunes, S.P. Recycled Poly(ethylene terephthalate) for high temperature solvent resistant membranes. ACS Applied Polymer Materials9, 2379-2387 (2019).| article, http://dx.doi.org/10.1021/acsapm.9b00493