Fish Gill Inspired Crossflow for Efficient and Continuous Collection of Spilled Oil
Developing an effective system to clean up large-scale oil spills is of great significance due to their contribution to severe environmental pollution and destruction. Superwetting membranes have been widely studied for oil/water separation. The separation, however, adopts a gravity-driven approach that is inefficient and discontinuous due to quick fouling of the membrane by oil. Herein, inspired by the crossflow filtration behavior in fish gills, we propose a crossflow approach via a hydrophilic, tilted gradient membrane for spilled oil collection. In crossflow collection, as the oil/water flows parallel to the hydrophilic membrane surface, water is gradually filtered through the pores, while oil is repelled, transported, and finally collected for storage. Owing to the selective gating behavior of the water-sealed gradient membrane, the large pores at the bottom with high water flux favor fast water filtration, while the small pores at the top with strong oil repellency allow easy oil transportation. In addition, the gradient membrane exhibits excellent antifouling properties due to the protection of the water layer. Therefore, this bioinspired crossflow approach enables highly efficient and continuous spilled oil collection, which is very promising for the cleanup of large-scale oil spills.