Bio-inspired counter-current multiplier for enrichment of solutes

Kyle Brubaker, Armand Garewal, Rachel C. Steinhardt, Aaron P. Esser-Kahn

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

6 Scopus citations


Improving the efficiency of gas separation technology is a challenge facing modern industry, since existing methods for gas separation, including hollow-fiber membrane contactors, vacuum swing adsorption, and cryogenic distillation, represents a significant portion of the world's energy consumption. Here, we report an enhancement in the release rate of carbon dioxide and oxygen of a thermal swing gas desorption unit using a counter-current amplification method inspired by fish. Differing from a conventional counter-current extraction system, counter-current amplification makes use of parallel capture fluid channels separated by a semipermeable membrane in addition to the semipermeable membrane separating the capture fluid channel and the gas release channel. The membrane separating the incoming and outgoing fluid channels allows gas that would normally exit the system to remain in the desorption unit. We demonstrate the system using both resistive heating and photothermal heating. With resistive heating, an increase in release rate of 240% was observed compared to an equivalent counter-current extraction system.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number736
JournalNature Communications
Issue number1
StatePublished - Dec 1 2018
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Chemistry
  • General Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology
  • General Physics and Astronomy


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