Treatment of electroplating wastewater using NF ph-stable membranes: Characterization and application

Ignacio Hegoburu, Karina Listiarini Zedda, Svetlozar Velizarov

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Citation (Scopus)


Industrial adoption of nanofiltration (NF) for treatment of low-pH wastewater is hindered by the limited membrane lifetime at strongly acidic conditions. In this study, the electroplating wastewater (EPWW) filtration performance of a novel pH-stable NF membrane is compared against a commercial NF membrane and a reverse osmosis (RO) membrane. The presented membrane is relatively hydrophobic and has its isoelectric point (IEP) at pH 4.1, with a high and positive zeta potential of +10 mV at pH 3. A novel method was developed to determine the molecular weight cut-off (MWCO) at a pH of 2, with a finding that the membrane maintains the same MWCO (~500 Da) as under neutral pH operating conditions, whereas the commercial membrane significantly increases it. In crossflow filtration experiments with simulated EPWW, rejections above 75% are observed for all heavy metals (compared to only 30% of the commercial membrane), while keeping the same pH in the feed and permeate. Despite the relatively lower permeance of the prepared membrane (~1 L/(m2·h·bar) versus ~4 L/(m2·h·bar) of the commercial membrane), its high heavy metals rejection coupled with a very low acid rejection makes it suitable for acid recovery applications.

Original languageEnglish
Article number399
Pages (from-to)1-27
Number of pages27
Issue number12
Publication statusPublished - 6 Dec 2020


  • Acid recovery
  • Donnan effect
  • Electroplating
  • Extreme pH
  • Nanofiltration


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