Attapulgite-based nanofiber membrane with oriented channels for high-efficiency oil-water separation

Hengyang Mao, Peng Xu, Shouyong Zhou*, Zhaoru Fan, Ailian Xue, Meisheng Li, Yijiang Zhao*, Aiqin Wang, Zhentao Wu, Yiqun Fan

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Nanofiber membranes are distinguished for their high porosity and interconnected pore structures. However, their separation application and performances are affected by irregular pore structures which are formed by the randomly packing of nanofibers. Herein, we report a facile approach to produce nanofiber membranes with oriented channels, narrow pore size, and low tortuosity. The membranes show a bi-layered structure where magnetic attapulgite (mATP) nanofiber layers are directly supported on macroporous Al2O3 substrates. The mATP layers are prepared by drop-coating suspensions on top of the substrates pre-filled with water, and the ordered pore structures are formed at the presence of a magnetic field. Compared with the unordered membranes, average pore size of the ordered membranes reduces from 0.45 to 0.28 μm, with the water permeance increase from 1007 to 1121 L m−2 h−1·bar−1. Moreover, the stationary flux of ordered membranes increase by 59% with the retention to oil-in-water emulsion increase from 98.7% to 99.2%. Analysis of membrane fouling using the Hermia model shows that the ordered membrane can reduce membrane blocking and thus facilitate membrane cleaning and restore of separation performance.

Original languageEnglish
Article number121811
JournalJournal of Membrane Science
Early online date6 Jun 2023
Publication statusPublished - 5 Oct 2023

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This study was financially supported by the National Natural Science Foundation of China ( 21978109 , 22111530109 ), the National Key Project of China ( 2022YFB3805003 ), the Key Research and Development Program of Huaian ( HAG202202 ), the Jiangsu Collaborative Innovation Center of Regional Modern Agriculture & Environmental Protection ( HSXT30633 ), the Foundation of Key Laboratory of Clay Mineral Applied Research of Gansu Province , Lanzhou Institute of Chemical Physics, Chinese Academy of Sciences ( CMAR-2022-6 ), and the Home for Researchers ( ).


  • Magnetic attapulgite
  • Membrane separation
  • Nanofiber
  • Oil-in-water emulsion
  • Ordered structure


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