Membraneless water filtration using CO.
Water purification technologies such as microfiltration/ultrafiltration and reverse osmosis utilize porous membranes to remove suspended particles and solutes. These membranes, however, cause many drawbacks such as a high pumping cost and a need for periodic replacement due to fouling. Here we show an alternative membraneless method for separating suspended particles by exposing the colloidal suspension to CO. Dissolution of CO into the suspension creates solute gradients that drive phoretic motion of particles. Due to the large diffusion potential generated by the dissociation of carbonic acid, colloidal particles move either away from or towards the gas-liquid interface depending on their surface charge. Using the directed motion of particles induced by exposure to CO, we demonstrate a scalable, continuous flow, membraneless particle filtration process that exhibits low energy consumption, three orders of magnitude lower than conventional microfiltration/ultrafiltration processes, and is essentially free from fouling.