Membrane filtration opportunities for the treatment of black liquor in the paper and pulp industry

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Citations (Scopus)


Black liquor is a highly alkaline liquid by-product of the kraft pulping process, rich in organic molecules (hemicelluloses, lignin, and organic acids) and inorganic pulping chemicals such as sodium salts and sulphur-containing compounds. The release of this wastewater without further treatment could have serious environmental and financial implications. Therefore, a costly treatment process is used nowadays. Nanofiltration has been studied in the last few years as a promising alternative to recycle the cooking chemicals required for the separation of lignin and cellulose, but the development of pH-stable membranes with the potential to operate at industrial scales is fundamental in order to make this possible. In this study, the filtration performance of two in-house made membranes is evaluated and compared with a commercial NF membrane to determine the viability of their use for the treatment of black liquor. For this purpose, filtration experiments with simulated black liquor were performed. We identified that Membrane A has the higher potential for this application due to its competitive permeate flux (ca. 24 L m−2 h−1 at a trans-membrane pressure of 21.5 bar), and high rejection of organic components and salts from the cooking liquor (on average, 92.50% for the TOC, 84.10% for the CO32−, 88.70% for the sulphates, 73.21% for the Na+, and 99.99% for the Mg2+).

Original languageEnglish
Article number2270
JournalWater (Switzerland)
Issue number16
Publication statusPublished - 2 Aug 2021


  • Alkaline pH
  • Black liquor
  • Donnan effect
  • Kraft process
  • Nanofiltration
  • Ultrafiltration


Dive into the research topics of 'Membrane filtration opportunities for the treatment of black liquor in the paper and pulp industry'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this