Graphene Oxide-alginate Hydrogel for Drawing Water through an Osmotic Membrane

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We report the preparation and evaluation of graphene oxide (GO)-enhanced alginate hydrogels for drawing water across an osmotic desalination membrane. GO-incorporated calcium alginate hydrogels (GO-HG) and pure calcium alginate hydrogels (P-HG) were synthesized for this study. Environmental scanning electron microscopy, water contact angle, and water uptake tests showed both samples to be strongly hydrophilic. The synthesized hydrogels demonstrated the ability to successfully and continuously draw water through a selective osmotic membrane in experiments. This was driven by the surface energy gradient-induced negative pressure between the more hydrophilic hydrogel and less hydrophilic membrane surface. The GO-HG was found to draw 21.2% more water than the P-HG, owing to the flexible GO nanosheets, which can be easily incorporated into the hydrogel framework. The GO nanosheets not only offer more hydrophilic functional sites but also enhance the connectivity within the alginate hydrogel framework so as to enhance the water production performance. The average amount of water drawn through the membrane by the GO-HG and the P-HG is 23.4 ± 0.9 g and 19.3 ± 1.8 g, respectively. It was found that no external stimuli were needed as water flows through the hydrogel due to gravitational force. The GO-enhanced alginate hydrogel, combined with the osmotic membrane, is a promising surface energy gradient-driven functional material for water purification and desalination without applying external pressure.

Original languageBritish English
Pages (from-to)38337-38346
Number of pages10
JournalACS Omega
Issue number43
StatePublished - 1 Nov 2022


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