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Date: 2021/3/17

NTU Team Researches on High-performance Osmotic Power Generators in Bionic Ion Channels Published in Science Advances

The research team, headed by Professor Chia-Wen (Kevin) Wu (吳嘉文) from the Department of Chemical Engineering, and NTU alumnus Professor Li-Hsien Yeh from the Department of Chemical Engineering, National Taiwan University of Science and Technology, received a year-long grant from the Ministry of Science and Technology’s Shackleton Program. After many trials and errors, the research team successfully fabricated a UiO-66-NH2 metal-organic framework (MOF) membrane onto an alumina nanochannel membrane (ANM). The results demonstrate ultrafast ion transport and ionic diode properties of the heterogeneous membrane, facilitating directional ion transport.

One of the 2015 UN Sustainable Development Goals is to conserve and sustainably use the oceans, seas and marine resources for sustainable development. Numerous international research teams have since looked into blue energy research and development, specifically to harness osmotic power using ion-selective membranes. However, past research had been limited. Due to the high mass transfer resistance and clearly insufficient ion selectivity of nonuniform nanochannel membranes, there were few breakthroughs in conversion efficiency.

The research team, headed by Professor Chia-Wen (Kevin) Wu from the Department of Chemical Engineering, and NTU alumnus Professor Li-Hsien Yeh from the Department of Chemical Engineering, National Taiwan University of Science and Technology, received a year-long grant from the Ministry of Science and Technology’s Shackleton Program. They were inspired by the electric eel’s densely packed array of electrocytes with high ion transmissibility and selectivity (see image below). After many trials and errors, the research team successfully fabricated a large-scale, continuous, and pinhole free UiO-66-NH2 metal-organic framework (MOF) membrane onto an alumina nanochannel membrane (ANM). The results demonstrate ultrafast ion transport and ionic diode properties of the heterogeneous membrane, facilitating directional ion transport. The subnanochannel MOF membrane enables osmotic transport with a maximum power density of 26.8 W/m2, and an exceptionally high Br−/NO3− selectivity of ~1240, both setting a new record in the field. The study was recently published in international journal Science Advances, after undergoing rigorous peer review by 5 editor and receiving wide praise.

The research team believes that the MOF membrane, with its bionic ion channels, has the potential to open unexplored avenues in advanced separation technologies, seawater desalination, and other energy generation technologies. It is also worth mentioning that all four authors of this paper are Taiwanese. The team is grateful to the Ministry of Science and Technology’s Shackleton Program for its support and increasing Taiwan’s visibility.

To read more about the reasarch, please go to https://advances.sciencemag.org/content/7/10/eabe9924

  • Image 1931_20210317_1

    Inspired by electric eel electrocytes, this ordered heterogeneous subnanochannel membrane, facilitates ultrafast transport of specific ions with its high selectivity and ultrafast osmosis. Electricity is generated as a result of an ionic concentration difference between the two sides of the membrane.

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