Table of Contents
ISRN Nanotechnology
Volume 2012, Article ID 693485, 17 pages
Review Article

The Separation Power of Nanotubes in Membranes: A Review

Laboratory for Applied Physical Chemistry and Environmental Technology, Department of Chemical Engineering, KU Leuven, W. de Croylaan 46, 3001 Leuven, Belgium

Received 20 March 2012; Accepted 1 May 2012

Academic Editors: W.-J. Chang, B. Coasne, Y. Jin, Y. A. Koksharov, and Y. Li

Copyright © 2012 Bart Van der Bruggen. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


Research on mixed matrix membranes in which nanoparticles are used to enhance the membrane's performance in terms of flux, separation, and fouling resistance has boomed in the last years. This review probes on the specific features and benefits of one specific type of nanoparticles with a well-defined cylindrical structure, known as nanotubes. Nanotube structures for potential use in membranes are reviewed. These comprise mainly single-wall carbon nanotubes (SWCNTs) and multiwall carbon nanotubes (MWCNTs), but also other structures and materials, which are less studied for membrane applications, can be used. Important issues related to polymer-nanotube interactions such as dispersion and alignment are outlined, and a categorization is made of the resultant membranes. Applications are reviewed in four different areas, that is, gas separation, water filtration, drug delivery, and fuel cells.