Effective entrapment of volatile organic compounds by nanofiber filter

Demand for air filters in the industrial and automobile markets will be among the fastest growing. Analysts from Freedonia group predicted that the filter demand is expected to increase 7.1 % annually to $12.6 billion in 2015 in US. Focus on filter media built-in with functional compound as a filtering material for the removal of volatile organic compounds has become more popular among media/membrane developers.

Prof Tamer Uyar and his team member Fatma Kayaci at Bilkent University, Turkey developed polyester (PET) nanofibers web integrated with cyclodextrins (CD), a family of organic compounds made up of sugar molecules bound together in a ring to capture aniline and toluene molecules. His team adopted electrospinning technique owing to its simplicity, versatility and cost-effectiveness. Generally electrospinning requires high molecular weight polymers and high solution concentrations to produce defect-free and uniform nanofibers. Prof Tamer Uyar’s team decided to electrospin polymer with CD compound mainly to introduce inclusion complexation potential. The team addressed the dissolution issue with solvent system that contains dimethyl sulfoxide (DMSO)–water for the preparation of the highly concentrated solution of CD.

 “The electrospinning of nanofibers from non-polymeric supramolecular systems is rather new and attractive. Cyclodextrins (CDs) have a toroid-shaped molecular structure with a hydrophobic cavity that help to host variety of molecules”, Prof Tamer Uyar who is the recipient of 2012 Fiber Society Distinguished Achievement Award explained.

The incorporation of non-polymeric molecules (CD) also improved the mechanical property of the nanofibers.


Air filtration
Image courtesy: RSC Adv., 2013, 3, 22891–22895 | 22891


With the higher surface area of nanofibrous web, the contact points of CD molecules are higher, hence they become more available to entrap vapors of organic molecules. This study suggests that electrospun CD nano fibers can be very promising candidates for the removal of organic toxic vapors from the environment.


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