Ultrafine particulate aerosols less than 100 nm diffuse randomly in the air and are hazardous to the environment and human health. However, no technical standards or commercial products are available for filtering particle sizes under 100 nm yet. Here, we report the development of a porous poly(l-lactic acid) (PLLA) nanofibrous membrane filter with an ultra-high specific surface area via electrospinning and a post-treatment process. After PLLA fibres were electrospun and collected, they were treated by acetone to generate a blossoming porous structure throughout each individual fibre. Characterizations of morphology, crystallinity, and mechanical and thermal properties demonstrated that the porous structure can be attributed to the nonsolvent-induced spinodal phase separation during electrospinning and solvent-induced recrystallization during post treatment. The blossoming porous structure with high specific surface area contributed to excellent filtration efficiency (99.99%) for sodium chloride (NaCl) ultrafine aerosol particles (30–100 nm) with a low pressure drop (110–230 Pa). Notably, under 7.8 cm/s air flow rate, the membrane samples performed better for filtering smaller-sized aerosol particles than the larger ones when evaluated by the quality factor (0.07). Finally, this finding demonstrates that the electrospun membrane with a hierarchical pore structure and high specific surface area hold great potential in applications as air-filtering materials.
- fibrous PLLA membrane
- hierarchical porous structure
- ultrafine aerosol filtration
- solvent induced recrystallization