This work explores the application of Reverse Osmosis (RO) upcycled membranes, as Anion Exchange Membranes (AEMs) in Donnan Dialysis (DD) and related processes, such as the Ion Exchange Membrane Bioreactor (IEMB), for the removal of nitrate from contaminated water, to meet drinking water standards. Such upcycled membranes might be manufactured at a lower price than commercial AEMs, while their utilization reinforces the commitment to a circular economy transition. In an effort to gain a better understanding of such AEMs, confocal µ-Raman spectroscopy was employed, to assess the distribution of the ion-exchange sites through the thickness of the prepared membranes, and 2D fluorescence spectroscopy, to evaluate alterations in the membranes caused by fouling and chemical cleaning The best performing membrane reached a 56% average nitrate removal within 24 h in the DD and IEMB systems, with the latter furthermore allowing for simultaneous elimination of the pollutant by biological denitrification, thus avoiding its discharge into the environment. Overall, this work validates the technical feasibility of using RO upcycled AEMs in DD and IEMB processes for nitrate removal. This membrane recycling concept might also find applications for the removal and/or recovery of other target negatively charged species.
- Circular economy
- Donnan dialysis
- Ion-exchange membrane bioreactor
- Membrane recycling
- Nitrate removal