Nanofiltration of simulated acid mine drainage: Effect of pH and membrane charge

Ye Wee Siew, Karina Listiarini Zedda, Svetlozar Velizarov

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11 Citations (Scopus)
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Acid mine drainage (AMD) is a severe form of environmental pollution that has the potential to contaminate surface and ground waters by introducing heavy metals and lowering the pH. The feasibility of using nanofiltration (NF) as a potentially attractive and cost-effective remediation method to treat acid mine drainage was investigated in this study. The performance of an acid-stable NF membrane focusing on the effects of the water pH and membrane charge on ion rejection was systematically studied. A single salt solution experiment showed that Mg, Cu, and Mn containing species were highly rejected at above 97%. Below the membrane iso-electric point (IEP), Mn showed an increased rejection of 99%, while Mg and Mn rejections were relatively constant within the investigated pH range of pH 2 to 7. Rejection of monovalent Cl- decreased with increasing concentration of an accompanying divalent SO4 2-, showing that Donnan related effects are more prominent at higher ionic concentrations. The sulfate rejection decreased drastically below pH 3 due to the formation of HSO4 -, which permeated through the membrane, which can be utilized as a way of separation of the metals from the accompanying sulfur-containing compounds. For mixed salt solutions, rejection of silicate dropped from 52% to 38% when magnesium sulfate was added, owing to shielding of the membrane surface charge by Mg2+ ions. The NF process performance with a simulated AMD solution was found to be similar to that with model salt solution experiments, both in terms of ion rejection values and general pH-dependent rejection trends. The results obtained can be used as a fast preliminary tool for evaluating the feasibility of using NF for treating AMD with a given ionic composition and pH.

Original languageEnglish
Article number400
JournalApplied Sciences (Switzerland)
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 5 Jan 2020


  • Acid mine drainage
  • Donnan effect
  • Ion rejection
  • Nanofiltration


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