Water contamination caused by heavy metals, nutrients, and organic pollutants of varying particle sizes originating from domestic and industrial processes poses a significant global challenge. There is a growing concern, particularly regarding the presence of heavy metals in freshwater sources, as they can be toxic even at low concentrations, posing risks to human health and the environment. Currently, membrane technologies are recognized as effective and practical for treating domestic and industrial wastewater. However, these technologies are hindered by fouling issues. Furthermore, the utilization of conventional membranes leads to the accumulation of non-recyclable synthetic polymers, commonly used in their production, resulting in adverse environmental consequences. In light of our previously published studies on environmentally friendly, biodegradable polylactic acid (PLA) nanocomposite mixed matrix membranes (MMMs), we selected two top-performing PLA-based ultrafiltration nanocomposite membranes: one negatively charged (PLA-M-) and one positively charged (PLA-M+). We integrated these membranes into systems with varying arrangements to control fouling and eliminate heavy metals, organic pollutants, and nutrients from raw municipal wastewater collected by the local wastewater treatment plant in Abu Dhabi (UAE). The performance of two integrated systems (i.e., PLA-M+/PLA-M- and PLA-M-/PLA-M+) was compared in terms of permeate flux, contaminant removal efficiencies, and fouling mitigation. The PLA-M+/PLA-M- system achieved removal efficiencies of 79.6 %, 92.6 %, 88.7 %, 85.2 %, 98.9 %, 94 %, 83.3 %, and 98.3 % for chemical oxygen demand (COD), nitrate (NO3--N), phosphate (PO43--P), ammonium (NH4+-N), iron (Fe), zinc (Zn), nickel (Ni), and copper (Cu), respectively. On the other hand, the PLA-M-/PLA-M+ system recorded removal efficiencies of 85.8 %, 95.9 %, 100 %, 81.9 %, 99.3 %, 91.9 %, 72.9 %, and 98.9 % for COD, NO3--N, PO43--P, NH4+-N, Fe, Zn, Ni, and Cu, respectively. Notably, the PLA-M-/PLA-M+ system demonstrated superior antifouling resistance, making it the preferred integrated system. These findings demonstrate the potential of eco-friendly PLA nanocomposite UF-MMMs as a promising alternative to petroleum-based polymeric membranes for efficient and sustainable wastewater treatment.

Novel eco-friendly polylactic acid nanocomposite integrated membrane system for sustainable wastewater treatment: Performance evaluation and antifouling analysis

Cairone, Stefano;Naddeo, Vincenzo;
2023-01-01

Abstract

Water contamination caused by heavy metals, nutrients, and organic pollutants of varying particle sizes originating from domestic and industrial processes poses a significant global challenge. There is a growing concern, particularly regarding the presence of heavy metals in freshwater sources, as they can be toxic even at low concentrations, posing risks to human health and the environment. Currently, membrane technologies are recognized as effective and practical for treating domestic and industrial wastewater. However, these technologies are hindered by fouling issues. Furthermore, the utilization of conventional membranes leads to the accumulation of non-recyclable synthetic polymers, commonly used in their production, resulting in adverse environmental consequences. In light of our previously published studies on environmentally friendly, biodegradable polylactic acid (PLA) nanocomposite mixed matrix membranes (MMMs), we selected two top-performing PLA-based ultrafiltration nanocomposite membranes: one negatively charged (PLA-M-) and one positively charged (PLA-M+). We integrated these membranes into systems with varying arrangements to control fouling and eliminate heavy metals, organic pollutants, and nutrients from raw municipal wastewater collected by the local wastewater treatment plant in Abu Dhabi (UAE). The performance of two integrated systems (i.e., PLA-M+/PLA-M- and PLA-M-/PLA-M+) was compared in terms of permeate flux, contaminant removal efficiencies, and fouling mitigation. The PLA-M+/PLA-M- system achieved removal efficiencies of 79.6 %, 92.6 %, 88.7 %, 85.2 %, 98.9 %, 94 %, 83.3 %, and 98.3 % for chemical oxygen demand (COD), nitrate (NO3--N), phosphate (PO43--P), ammonium (NH4+-N), iron (Fe), zinc (Zn), nickel (Ni), and copper (Cu), respectively. On the other hand, the PLA-M-/PLA-M+ system recorded removal efficiencies of 85.8 %, 95.9 %, 100 %, 81.9 %, 99.3 %, 91.9 %, 72.9 %, and 98.9 % for COD, NO3--N, PO43--P, NH4+-N, Fe, Zn, Ni, and Cu, respectively. Notably, the PLA-M-/PLA-M+ system demonstrated superior antifouling resistance, making it the preferred integrated system. These findings demonstrate the potential of eco-friendly PLA nanocomposite UF-MMMs as a promising alternative to petroleum-based polymeric membranes for efficient and sustainable wastewater treatment.
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Utilizza questo identificativo per citare o creare un link a questo documento: https://hdl.handle.net/11386/4851316
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