Microfluidic fabrication of porous polydimethylsiloxane microparticles for the treatment of toluene-contaminated water

  • Zheng Lian
  • Yong RenEmail author
  • Jun He
  • George Z. Chen
  • Kai Seng Koh
Research Paper
Part of the following topical collections:
  1. 2018 International Conference of Microfluidics, Nanofluidics and Lab-on-a-Chip, Beijing, China


In this paper, pristine and two types of porous polydimethylsiloxane (PDMS) microparticles were fabricated using oil-in-water (O/W) single emulsion template by the needle-based microfluidic multiphase system. By manipulating the flow rate of either the dispersed or continuous phase, microparticles of various sizes were obtained. The capillary number of the continuous phase for all flow conditions applied in this study was less than 0.1, suggesting that the flow regime was dripping. The coefficients of variation (CV) of sizes under different flow conditions were less than 1.5% which indicates the particles to be highly monodispersed. The surface morphology and particle size were characterized by optical microscope and scanning electron microscope. Pristine PDMS microparticles (PDMS-P) and PDMS microparticles templated from tetrachloromethane (CCl4) and white granulated sugars (PDMS-C and PDMS-S, respectively) were prepared under the same flow conditions. Subsequently, the microparticles were adopted for treatment of a synthetic wastewater that contained organic compounds such as toluene under static and dynamic states for comparison. The effects including the releasing amount, size of particles, porosity of microparticles and initial concentration of pollutants were investigated based on the toluene concentration variation, which was quantified by a gas chromatograph-headspace sampler (GC-HS). It has been found that 50 mg of porous PDMS microparticles are capable of realising over 65% of toluene removal efficiency of 200 ppm toluene aqueous solution within 2 h. The microparticles were collected and reused 30 times with unchanged treatment capacity.


Microfluidics Monodispersed microparticles Porous structure Volatile organic pollutant Absorption 



The authors acknowledge the financial support from the International Doctoral Innovation Centre, Ningbo Bureau of Education, Ningbo Bureau of Science and Technology, and the University of Nottingham. This research was supported by Young Scientist Program from National Natural Science Foundation of China under Grant no. NSFC51506103/E0605, and Zhejiang Provincial Natural Science Foundation of China under Grant no. LQ15E090001. The research was also supported by Inspiration Grant from Faculty of Science and Engineering, University of Nottingham Ningbo China. The authors would like to thank Ms. Qiaoqi Zhu and Ms. Tianyuan Peng for assistance on the microfluidic experiments of microparticle collection and characterization, as well as Mr. Daniel Dai from Agilent Technologies (Shanghai) Co. for helpful technical discussion.

Supplementary material

10404_2018_2157_MOESM1_ESM.docx (1 mb)
Supplementary material 1 (DOCX 1036 KB)

Supplementary material 2 (MP4 10429 KB)


  1. Ahmaruzzaman M, Sharma DK (2005) Adsorption of phenols from wastewater. J Colloid Interface Sci 287(1):14–24. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Amin MT, Alazba AA, Manzoor U (2014) A review of removal of pollutants from water/wastewater using different types of nanomaterials. Adv Mater Sci Eng. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Baroud CN, Gallaire F, Dangla R (2010) Dynamics of microfluidic droplets. Lab Chip 10(16):2032. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Calcagnile P, Fragouli D, Bayer IS, Anyfantis GC, Martiradonna L, Cozzoli PD, Athanassiou A (2012) Magnetically driven floating foams for the removal of oil contaminants from water. ACS Nano 6:5413–5419. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Choi S, Kwon T, Im H, Moon D, Baek DJ, Seol M, … Choi Y (2011) A polydimethylsiloxane (PDMS) sponge for the selective absorption of oil from water. ACS Appl Mater Interfaces. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Cramer C, Fischer P, Windhab EJ (2004) Drop formation in a co-flowing ambient fluid. Chem Eng Sci 59(15):3045–3058. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Cubaud T, Mason TG (2008) Capillary threads and viscous droplets in square microchannels. Phys Fluids. CrossRefzbMATHGoogle Scholar
  8. Dhote J, Ingole S, Chavhan A (2012) Review on wastewater treatment technologies. Int J Eng Res Technol 1(5):1–10Google Scholar
  9. Erb RM, Obrist D, Chen PW, Studer J, Studart AR (2011) Predicting sizes of droplets made by microfluidic flow-induced dripping. Soft Matter 7(19):8757–8761. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Feczkó T, Kokol V, Voncina B (2010) Preparation and characterization of ethylcellulose-based microcapsules for sustaining release of a model fragrance. Macromol Res 18(7):636–640. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Fernandez-nieves A, Gordillo JM, Scott A, Gupta R, Kulkarni GU, Abate AR, Wang J (2014) Microfluidic techniques for synthesizing particles. Adv Mater 26(14):1–21. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Fu AY, Spence C, Scherer A, Arnold FH, Quake SR (1999) A microfabricated fluorescence-activated cell sorter. Nat Biotechnol 17(11):1109–1111. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Garstecki P, Fuerstman MJ, Stone H, Whitesides GM (2006) Formation of droplets and bubbles in a microfluidic T-junction-scaling and mechanism of break-up. Lab Chip. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Grosse M, Lamotte M, Birot M, Deleuze H (2008) Preparation of microcellular polysiloxane monoliths. J Polym Sci Part A: Polym Chem 46:21–32. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Gu S-Q, Zhang Y-X, Zhu Y, Du W-B, Yao B, Fang Q (2011) Multifunctional Picoliter droplet manipulation platform and its application in single cell analysis. Anal Chem 83(19):7570–7576. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. Hu SH, Tsai CH, Liao CF, Liu DM, Chen SY (2008) Controlled rupture of magnetic polyelectrolyte microcapsules for drug delivery. Langmuir 24(20):11811–11818. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. Huebner A, Sharma S, Srisa-Art M, Hollfelder F, Edel JB, DeMello AJ (2008) Microdroplets: a sea of applications? Lab Chip 8(8):1244–1254. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Jin C, Han S, Li J, Sun Q (2015) Fabrication of cellulose-based aerogels from waste newspaper without any pretreatment and their use for absorbents. Carbohyd Polym 123:150–156. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. Karnik R, Gu F, Basto P, Cannizaro C, Dean L, Kyei-Manu W, Farokhzad OC (2008) Microfluidic platform for controlled synthesis of polymeric nanoparticles. Nano Lett 8(9):2906–2912CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. Kim J, Taki K, Nagamine S, Ohshima M (2009) Preparation of porous poly (l-lactic acid) honeycomb monolith structure by phase separation and unidirectional freezing. Langmuir 25(19):5304–5312. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. Koh KS, Chin J, Chia J, Chiang CL (2012) Quantitative studies on PDMS-PDMS interface bonding with piranha solution and its swelling effect. Micromachines 3(2):427–441. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. Kulkarni SJ, Tapre RW, Patil SV, Sawarkar MB (2013) Adsorption of phenol from wastewater in fluidized bed using coconut shell activated carbon. Procedia Eng 51(NUiCONE 2012):300–307. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. Lee J, Park C, Whitesides GM (2003) Solvent compatibility of poly(dimethylsiloxane)-based microfluidic devices. Anal Chem 75(23):6544–6554. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. Li X, Li F, Yang J, Kinoshita H (2012) Study on the mechanism of droplet formation in T-junction microchannel. Chem Eng Sci 69(1):340–351. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. Li N, Li T, Lei X, Fu B, Liao W, Qiu J (2014) Preparation and characterization of porous PDMS beads for oil and organic solvent sorption. Polym Eng Sci 54(12):2965–2969. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. Li T, Zhao L, Liu W, Xu J, Wang J (2016) Simple and reusable off-the-shelf microfluidic devices for the versatile generation of droplets. Lab Chip. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  27. Lofrano G, Meriç S, Emel G, Orhon D (2013) Science of the total environment chemical and biological treatment technologies for leather tannery chemicals and wastewaters: a review. Sci Total Environ 462:265–281. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  28. Madene A, Jacquot M, Scher J, Desobry S (2006) Flavour encapsulation and controlled release—a review. Int J Food Sci Technol 41(1):1–21. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  29. Mengeaud V, Josserand J, Girault HH (2002) Mixing processes in a zigzag microchannel: finite element simulations and optical study. Anal Chem 74(16):4279–4286. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  30. Miao Z, Wang L (2011) The performance of starch microspheres treating wastewater. ICMREE2011 Proc 2011 Int Conf Mater Renew Energy Environ 1(l):758–761. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  31. Mitchell MC, Spikmans V, Manz A, de Mello AJ (2001) Microchip-based synthesis and total analysis systems (µSYNTAS): chemical microprocessing for generation and analysis of compound libraries. J Chem Soc Perkin Trans 1(5):514–518. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  32. Mohd Udaiyappan AF, Hasan HA, Takriff MS, Sheikh Abdullah SR (2017) A review of the potentials, challenges and current status of microalgae biomass applications in industrial wastewater treatment. J Water Process Eng 20(June):8–21. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  33. Ottino JM, Wiggins S (2004) Introduction: mixing in microfluidics. Philos Trans A Math Phys Eng Sci 362(1818):923–935. MathSciNetCrossRefzbMATHGoogle Scholar
  34. Prastowo A, Feuerborn A, Cook PR, Walsh EJ (2016) Biocompatibility of fluids for multiphase drops-in-drops microfluidics. Biomed Microdev 18(6):1–9. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  35. Rosca ID, Watari F, Uo M (2004) Microparticle formation and its mechanism in single and double emulsion solvent evaporation. J Control Release 99(2):271–280. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  36. Rotem A, Abate AR, Utada AS, Van Steijn V, Weitz D a (2012) Drop formation in non-planar microfluidic devices. Lab Chip 12(21):4263. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  37. Scott A, Gupta R, Kulkarni GU (2010) A simple water-based synthesis of Au nanoparticle/PDMS composites for water purification and targeted drug release. Macromol Chem Phys 211(15):1640–1647. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  38. Shannon MA, Bohn PW, Elimelech M, Georgiadis JG, Marinas BJ, Mayes AM (2008) Science and technology for water purification in the coming decades. Nature 452(March):301–310. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  39. Shchukin DG, Gorin DA, Möhwald H (2006) Ultrasonically induced opening of polyelectrolyte microcontainers. Langmuir 22(17):7400–7404. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  40. Song H, Chen DL, Ismagilov RF (2006) Reactions in droplets in microfluidic channels. Angew Chem Int Ed 45(44):7336–7356. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  41. Stroock, a. D., & Whitesides, G. M. (2002). Components for integrated poly (dimethylsiloxane) microfluidic systems. Electrophoresis 23(20):3461–3473.;2-8 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  42. Swain AK, Sahoo A, Jena HM, Patra H (2018) Industrial wastewater treatment by aerobic inverse fluidized bed biofilm reactors (AIFBBRs): a review. J Water Process Eng 23(October 2017):61–74. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  43. Tan HML, Fukuda H, Akagi T, Ichiki T (2007) Surface modification of poly(dimethylsiloxane) for controlling biological cells’ adhesion using a scanning radical microjet. Thin Solid Films 515(12):5172–5178. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  44. Teh S-Y, Lin R, Hung L-H, Lee AP (2008) Droplet microfluidics. Lab Chip 8(2):198–220. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  45. Tiwari DK, Behari J, Sen P (2008) Application of nanoparticles in waste water treatment. Carbon Nanotubes 3(3):417–433.
  46. Utada aS, Chu L-Y, Fernandez-Nieves a, Link DR, Holtze C, Weitz Da (2007) Dripping, jetting, drops, and wetting: the magic of microfluidics. MRS Bull 32(09):702–708. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  47. Víctor-Ortega MD, Ochando-Pulido JM, Martínez-Férez A (2016) Phenols removal from industrial effluents through novel polymeric resins: kinetics and equilibrium studies. Sep Purif Technol 160:136–144. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  48. Wang C, Lin S (2013) Robust superhydrophobic/superoleophilic sponge for effective continuous absorption and expulsion of oil pollutants from water, 8861–8864.
  49. Ward T, Faivre M, Stone HA (2010) Drop production and tip-streaming phenomenon in a microfluidic flow-focusing device via an interfacial chemical reaction. Langmuir 26(12):9233–9239. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  50. Whitesides GM (2006) The origins and the future of microfluidics. Nature 442(7101):368–373. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  51. Whitesides GM, Ostuni E, Jiang X, Ingber DE (2001) Soft L ithography in biology and biochemistry. Annu Rev Biomed Eng 3:335–373CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  52. Wu L, Liu X, Zhao Y, Chen Y (2017) Role of local geometry on droplet formation in axisymmetric microfluidics. Chem Eng Sci 163:56–67. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  53. Yobas L (2015) Microfluidic emulsification through a monolithic integrated glass micronozzle suspended inside a flow-focusing geometry suspended inside a flow-focusing geometry. ACS Appl Mater Interfaces. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  54. Yoo JS, Kim SJ, Choi JS (1999) Swelling equilibria of mixed solvent/poly(dimethylsiloxane) systems. J Chem Eng Data 44(1):16–22. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  55. Yu K, Han Y (2006) A stable PEO-tethered PDMS surface having controllable wetting property by a swelling? Deswelling process. Soft Matter 2(8):705. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  56. Zhang A, Chen M, Du C, Guo H, Bai H, Li L (2013) Poly(dimethylsiloxane) oil absorbent with a three-dimensionally interconnected porous structure and swellable skeleton.
  57. Zhou X, Zhang Z, Xu X, Men X, Zhu X (2013) Facile fabrication of superhydrophobic sponge with selective absorption and collection of oil from water. Ind Eng Chem Res. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  58. Zhu L, Wang Y, Wang Y, You L, Shen X, Li S (2017) An environmentally friendly carbon aerogels derived from waste pomelo peels for the removal of organic pollutants/oils. Microporous Mesoporous Mater 241:285–292. CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.International Doctoral Innovation CentreUniversity of Nottingham Ningbo ChinaNingboChina
  2. 2.Department of Mechanical, Materials and Manufacturing EngineeringUniversity of Nottingham Ningbo ChinaNingboChina
  3. 3.Department of Chemical and Environmental EngineeringUniversity of Nottingham Ningbo ChinaNingboChina
  4. 4.Research Group for Fluids and Thermal EngineeringUniversity of Nottingham Ningbo ChinaNingboChina
  5. 5.School of Engineering and Physical SciencesHeriot-Watt University MalaysiaPutrajayaMalaysia

Personalised recommendations