A method for removing organic liquids from aqueous solutions and mixtures. The method employs any porous material preferably in granular form and having small pores and a large specific surface area, that is hydrophobic so that liquid water does not readily wet its surface. In this method, organics, especially organic solvents that mix with and are more volatile than water, are separated from aqueous solution by preferentially evaporating across the liquid/solid boundary formed at the surfaces of the hydrophobic porous materials. Also, organic solvents that are immiscible with water, preferentially wet the surfaces of the hydrophobic material and are drawn within the porous materials by capillary action.
The United States Government has rights in this invention pursuant to Contract No. W-7405-ENG-48 between the United States Department of Energy and the University of California for the operation of Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory.