Removal of heavy metal ions using a carboxylated graphene oxide-incorporated polyphenylsulfone nanofiltration membrane
We investigate the removal of heavy metal ions from synthetic contaminated water on a laboratory scale using a carboxylated-graphene oxide (GO)-incorporated polyphenylsulfone (PPSU) nanofiltration membrane (the so called PPSU/carboxylated-GO nanocomposite membrane). The prepared membranes were characterized with respect to the rheology of the doping solutions and based on the morphology, topography, and charge density of the membranes. Spectroscopic analysis of the membranes was also performed. The nanofiltration performance was demonstrated by the removal of five heavy metal ions (arsenic, chromium, cadmium, lead, and zinc). The effects of carboxylated-GO on the membrane molecular weight cut-off, hydraulic permeability, and heavy metal ion removal performance were investigated with respect to different factors, including feed concentration from single ions, transmembrane pressure (TMP) with mixed ions, and permeate flux. The addition of carboxylated-GO produced a membrane with enhanced properties that exhibited superior performance. Increasing the feed concentration and TMP did not affect the removal of anions; however, the removal of cations slightly decreased with the resulting membrane. The maximum removal rates of heavy metal ions were >98% and ∼80% for the anions and cations, respectively, and an enhanced volumetric flux of 27 ± 3 L m−2 h−1 was observed. This result is based on the Donnan exclusion principle, which is attributable to the surface charge of −70 mV and the order of the hydrated metal radii. The prepared PPSU/carboxylated-GO nanocomposite membrane provided impressive heavy metal ion removal and showed an acceptable volumetric flux under the applied parameters; this work demonstrates very economically advantageous conditions for heavy metal ion removal.