KAUST DepartmentAdvanced Membranes and Porous Materials Research Center
Analytical Core Lab
Physical Sciences and Engineering (PSE) Division
Chemical and Biological Engineering Program
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AbstractA novel polymeric membrane adsorber with a high density of adsorption sites that can selectively capture Au(III) ions, is proposed as an efficient alternative to recover gold from dilute solutions. Poly-thiosemicarbazide (PTSC), a polymer that contains one chelate site per monomeric unit, was used to fabricate the membranes. This polymer can be easily processed into membranes by a phase inversion technique, resulting in an open and interconnected porous structure suitable for high flux liquid phase applications. This method overcomes the usual low capacities of membrane adsorbents by selecting a starting material that contains the adsorption sites within it, therefore avoiding the necessity to add an external agent into the membrane matrix. The resulting mechanically stable PTSC membranes can operate in a pressure driven permeation process, which eliminates the diffusion limitations commonly present in packed column adsorption processes. This process can selectively recover 97% of the gold present in a solution containing a 9-fold higher copper concentration, while operating at a flux as high as 1868 L/m2 h. The maximum gold uptake measured without sacrificing the mechanical stability of the membrane was 5.4 mmol Au/g. Furthermore the gold can be easily eluted from the membrane with a 0.1 M thiourea solution and the membrane can be reused for at least three cycles without any decrease in its performance. Finally, the ability of this membrane for recovering metals from real-life samples, like seawater and tap water, was tested with promising results.
SponsorsThe authors acknowledge Dr. Pradeep Neelakanda and Dr. Madhavan Karunakaran for helping with the synthesis of PTSC. The authors also acknowledge Rodrigo Valladares for valuable discussions. Research reported in this publication was supported by the King Abdullah University of Science and Technology (KAUST).