It is challenging to purify oily wastewater, which affects water-energy-food production. One promising method is membrane-based separation. This paper reviews the current research trend of applying cellulose as a membrane material that mimics one of three typical biostructures: superhydrophobic, underwater superoleophobic, and Janus surfaces. Nature has provided efficient and effective structures through the evolutionary process. This has inspired many researchers to create technologies that mimic nature’s structures or the fabrication process. Lotus leaves, fish scales, and Namib beetles are three representative structures with distinct functional and surface properties: superhydrophobic, underwater superoleophobic, and Janus surfaces. The characteristics of these structures have been widely studied and applied to membrane materials to improve their performance. One attractive membrane material is cellulose, whichhas been studied from the perspective of its biodegradability and sustainability. In this review, the principles, mechanisms, fabrication processes, and membrane performances are summarized and compared. The theory of wettability is also described to build a comprehensive understanding of the concept. Finally, future outlook is discussed to challenge the gap between laboratory and industrial applications. [Figure not available: see fulltext.].

Original languageEnglish
Article number94
JournalFrontiers of Environmental Science and Engineering
Issue number7
Publication statusPublished - Jul 2022


  • Bioinspired membrane
  • Cellulose
  • Oil-water separation
  • Superhydrophobic surface
  • Underwater superoleophobic surface


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