Bioinspired Graphene Oxide Membranes with Dual Transport Mechanisms for Precise Molecular Separation

Haozhen Dou; Mi Xu; Bin Jiang; Guobin Wen; Lei Zhao; Baoyu Wang; Aiping Yu; Zhengyu Bai; Yongli Sun; Luhong Zhang; Zhongwei Chen; Zhongyi Jiang;

School of Chemical Engineering and Technology Tianjin University Tianjin 300350, China

Department of Chemical Engineering University of Waterloo 200 University Ave. W, Waterloo, Ontario N2L 3G1, Canada

School of Chemical Engineering and Food Science Zhengzhou Institute of Technology Zhengzhou 450044, China

School of Chemistry and Chemical Engineering Key Laboratory of Green Chemical Media and Reactions Henan Normal University Xinxiang 453007, China

Collaborative Innovation Centre of Chemical Science and Engineering Key Laboratory for Green Chemical Technology of Ministry of Education Tianjin 300350, China


The implementation of membrane technology to replace or combine with energy‐intensive cryogenic distillation for precise separation of ethylene/ethane mixture proves an extremely important yet highly challenging task. Inspired by the hierarchical structure and facilitated gas transport of biological membranes, a highly selective ethylene/ethane separation membrane is explored through the fixation of a silver ion carrier and the impregnation of ionic liquid within 2D nanochannels of graphene oxide laminate, where plenty of ethylene‐permeating in‐plane nano‐wrinkles and ethylene‐facilitated plane‐to‐plane nanochannels are constructed. By virtue of synergistic effects of molecular sieving and carrier‐facilitated transport, an unprecedented combination of high ethylene permeance (72.5 GPU) and superhigh ethylene/ethane selectivity (215) is achieved, out‐performing currently reported advanced membranes. Moreover, molecular dynamics simulations verify a favorable membrane nanostructure for fast and selective transport of ethylene molecules. This bioinspired approach with dual transport mechanisms may open novel avenues to the design of high‐performance membranes for precise molecular separation.

Graphical abstract