Membranes are important in the discriminated movement of molecules from one place to the other. A membrane serves the purpose of blocking undesired molecules and allowing the desired molecules to pass through it. Graphene oxide has recently been a topic of research as a solution to the filtering of ions and molecules. The membrane created from graphene membrane has been speculated to be more effective than most known membranes thereby increasing the prospects of research. The paper goes through the fabrication of Graphene membranes and the application of the membranes in various fields.
Joshi et al. (2015) states that Graphene membranes (GO) have desirable characteristics than any other membrane. The preference for GO is also dependent on the ease of fabricating it depending on the intended use. Other membranes require a lot of work and require producing in an industry. However, the GO membrane can be made through a simple process and without the use of complicated equipment. Joshi et al. (2014) explain the process of making the GO membrane, which involves the vacuum filtration of graphene oxide solution. The resulting GO membranes are laminates that are one micrometer thin. The laminates are vacuum-tight in their dry state. However, they become molecular sieves once they are immersed in water. In their filtration and molecular separation role, they block molecules that are more than 0.45 angstroms hydrated radii. The GO membrane is very efficient in its permeation role since it allows the smaller molecules to pass through at a speed that is a thousand times more than the speed of molecules in simple diffusion. The rate that the molecules permeate through the GO membranes makes them very effective in their functions.
Graphene material is an ultra thin material, which gives it a high mechanical strength. The strength reduces the strength required for molecules in gaseous to permeate in a separation process. An alternative method of making the membranes involves spraying the graphene oxide on a solid. After drying up the formed laminate is then used in the separation process. With such a simple way of making the membrane, it becomes the most accessible membrane. Giving its ultrafast nature in the separation process, it becomes more desirable than other membranes such as the carbon-based membranes (Joshi et al. 2015).
After three years of research on Graphene Oxide Membranes since its discovery in 2012, the number of applications have been determined. First, the membranes are important in gaseous separation due to their tendency to allow only water vapor to pass through and restrict other gases. The membrane also allows for ionic and molecular separation in a solution based on the size of the involved molecules and ions. The two main applications can be broken down into specific tasks that can be performed using the membrane. Such tasks include Ion Transportation, vapor transport, water transport, desalination, hydrogen separation, proton exchange, Bacterial inactivation and removal and selective gas transport. Each of the application can be used in large scale to solve problems. For Instance, desalination can be used to ensure water security especially in places where the only water available is saline (Joshi et al. 2015).
In conclusion, GO membranes are very important in the world. The abnormality of their working comes has led to a frenzy of research on the topic. The membranes are very effective in their application despite the ease in making them. The applications of the membranes are revolutionary when used in large scale, for example, desalination may change the world in terms of water security.
Joshi, R. K., Alwarappan, S., Yoshimura, M., Sahajwalla, V., & Nishina, Y 2015, Graphene oxide: the new membrane material. Applied Materials Today,1(1), 1-12.
Joshi, R. K., Carbone, P., Wang, F. C., Kravets, V. G., Su, Y., Grigorieva, I. V., ... & Nair, R. R 2014, Precise and ultrafast molecular sieving through graphene oxide membranes. Science, 343(6172), 752-754.
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