Surface heating membrane distillation overcomes several limitations inherent in conventional membrane distillation technology. Here we report a successful effort to grow in situ a hexagonal boron nitride (hBN) nanocoating on a stainless-steel wire cloth (hBN-SSWC), and its application as a scalable electrothermal heating material in surface heating membrane distillation. The novel hBN-SSWC provides superior vapour permeability, thermal conductivity, electrical insulation and anticorrosion properties, all of which are critical for the long-term surface heating membrane distillation performance, particularly with hypersaline solutions. By simply attaching hBN-SSWC to a commercial membrane and providing power with an a.c. supply at household frequency, we demonstrate that hBN-SSWC is able to support an ultrahigh power intensity (50 kW m−2) to desalinate hypersaline solutions with exceptionally high water flux (and throughput), single-pass water recovery and heat utilization efficiency while maintaining excellent material stability. We also demonstrate the exceptional performance of hBN-SSWC in a scalable and compact spiral-wound electrothermal membrane distillation module.
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The datasets generated during and/or analysed during the current study are available from the corresponding author on reasonable request.
The code utilized during the current study is available from the corresponding author on reasonable request.
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This work was supported by the NSF Nanosystems Engineering Research Center for Nanotechnology-Enabled Water Treatment (EEC-1449500) and the NSF I/UCRC Center for Atomically Thin Multifunctional Coatings (ATOMIC) under award number IIP-1539999.
The authors declare no competing interests.
Peer review information Nature Nanotechnology thanks Shihong Lin and the other, anonymous, reviewer(s) for their contribution to the peer review of this work.
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Zuo, K., Wang, W., Deshmukh, A. et al. Multifunctional nanocoated membranes for high-rate electrothermal desalination of hypersaline waters. Nat. Nanotechnol. 15, 1025–1032 (2020). https://doi.org/10.1038/s41565-020-00777-0
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