Effects of CNT size on the desalination performance of an outer-wall CNT slit membrane

EYM Ang and TY Ng and JJ Yeo and RM Lin and ZS Liu and KR Geethalakshmi, PHYSICAL CHEMISTRY CHEMICAL PHYSICS, 20, 13896-13902 (2018).

DOI: 10.1039/c8cp01191e

We investigate the effect of varying carbon nanotube (CNT) size on the desalination performance through slit confinements formed by horizontally aligned CNTs stacked on top of one another. By increasing the CNT size, the results obtained from this study indicate a corresponding increase in the water flow rate, accompanied by a slight reduction in salt rejection performance. However, due to the increase in the membrane area with CNT size, the permeability performance is observed to reduce as the CNT size increases. Nevertheless, a comparison with nanoporous 2D membranes shows that the permeability of an outer- wall CNT slit membrane remains significantly higher for all CNT sizes considered. This indicates that precise dimensions of the CNTs are not highly crucial for achieving ultra-high permeability performance in such membranes, as long as the critical slit size is maintained. In-depth analytical studies were further conducted to correlate the influence of curvature effects due to increasing CNT size on the flow characteristcis of the outer-wall CNT membrane. These include the analysis of the measured velocity profiles, oxygen density mapping, potential of mean force profile and friction profile. The present numerical results demonstrate the superb desalination performance of the outer-wall CNT slit membrane, regardless of the size of CNTs used. In addition, an extensive analysis conducted provides detailed characterization of how the curvature affects flow across outer-wall CNTs, and can be used to guide future design and fabrication for experimental testing.

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