Preparation of nanofiltration membranes for high rejection of organic micropollutants and low rejection of divalent cations

Yan ling Liu, Xiao mao Wang, Hong wei Yang, Yuefeng F. Xie, Xia Huang

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88 Scopus citations


A simultaneous high rejection of trace organic compounds (TrOCs) and low rejection of divalent cations (Ca2+/Mg2+) would be desirable for nanofiltration (NF) applied for drinking water treatment. The target was however not attainable by using the currently available commercial NF membranes. In this study, 3,5-diaminobenzoic acid (BA) was used as an additional diamine monomer besides piperazine (PIP) to prepare novel thin film composite NF membranes via interfacial polymerization with trimesoyl chloride (TMC). A series of NF membranes were prepared by varying BA to PIP concentration ratios in order to obtain a proper membrane pore size and a sufficiently high negative surface charge density. Membrane characterizations and performance tests showed that the incorporation of BA could increase the pore size, enhance the negative surface charge and change the structural properties of the membrane, which in turn affected the membrane water permeability and separation performance. The optimal membrane prepared with a BA/PIP ratio of 50%:50% exhibited a low rejection of CaCl2 (25.8%) and MgCl2 (32.0%) in single salt solutions at 10 mmol/L and a moderate rejection of Ca2+/Mg2+ ions (<60%) in a real tap water, while maintaining a reasonably high water permeability and an effective removal (>80%) for six out of eight selected pharmaceuticals (PhACs). The ATR-FTIR spectra and XPS analysis showed that BA could interfere the polymerization between PIP and TMC in forming the membrane active layer while the cross-linking degree between BA and TMC was relatively low. This implied that the proposed treatment target could also be achieved by using some other acidic diamines with similar functionalities of BA.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)152-160
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of Membrane Science
StatePublished - Feb 15 2019

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Biochemistry
  • General Materials Science
  • Physical and Theoretical Chemistry
  • Filtration and Separation


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