Nanofiltration (NF) membranes have been widely applied in many important environmental applications, including water softening, surface/groundwater purification, wastewater treatment, and water reuse. In recent years, a new class of piperazine (PIP)-based NF membranes featuring a crumpled polyamide layer has received considerable attention because of their great potential for achieving dramatic improvements in membrane separation performance. Since the report of novel crumpled Turing structures that exhibited an order of magnitude enhancement in water permeance ( Science 2018, 360 (6388), 518-521), the number of published research papers on this emerging topic has grown exponentially to approximately 200. In this critical review, we provide a systematic framework to classify the crumpled NF morphologies. The fundamental mechanisms and fabrication methods involved in the formation of these crumpled morphologies are summarized. We then discuss the transport of water and solutes in crumpled NF membranes and how these transport phenomena could simultaneously improve membrane water permeance, selectivity, and antifouling performance. The environmental applications of these emerging NF membranes are highlighted, and future research opportunities/needs are identified. The fundamental insights in this review provide critical guidance on the further development of high-performance NF membranes tailored for a wide range of environmental applications.
Keywords: crumpled morphology; membrane fouling; nanofiltration; polyamide; selectivity; water transport pathway.