Water scarcity is a critical issue worldwide, with almost six billion individuals expected to face shortages by 2050. At our research center, we recognize the importance of finding solutions to this pressing problem, and we believe that desalination can play a significant role in alleviating this issue. Reverse osmosis and nanofiltration are commonly used membrane-based technologies for desalination, with reverse osmosis being the most widely used, accounting for almost 70% of the produced desalinated water. Nanofiltration is increasingly recognized as a viable pretreatment to reverse osmosis, thanks to its lower energy requirements and effective removal of bivalent ions. However, the efficiency of nanofiltration membranes is limited by their low rejection of monovalent salts and fouling.
Recent developments in materials science have opened up possibilities for fabricating electrically conductive nanofiltration membranes. These membranes possess an electroactivity function which extends their role beyond conventional separation. Our team is working to develop innovative electrically conductive nanofiltration membranes that utilize carbon nanostructures to enhance desalination performance. The primary challenge involved in the fabrication process relates to the absence of standardized fabrication techniques for these membranes. We are currently investigating the potential of these membranes to improve desalination performance in terms of salt rejection and fouling mitigation. These electrically conductive nanofiltration membranes hold great promise for other ion separation applications as well.