From nanofiltration membrane permeances to design projections for the remediation and valorisation of acid mine waters
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Acidic Mine Waters (AMWs) are characterised by high acidity (pH¿<¿3) as H2SO4 and elevated contents of metals (Al, Fe, Cu, Zn), including rare earth elements (REEs). Due to the exhaustion of minable REE containing-minerals, AMWs are increasingly regarded as an alternative source of REEs. Among the different alternatives for the pre-concentration of AMWs required to make the REE extraction possible, nanofiltration (NF) membranes emerge as a promising technology because they not only successfully reject multivalent ions (metals), allowing its concentration in the retentate stream, but also permit the transport of monovalent ones, such as H+ and HSO4-, allowing the recovery of sulphuric acid in the permeate. Despite this potential of NF, there is still a lack of modelling tools for predicting the performance of NF membranes because of its dependence on solution composition, membrane properties and interaction between both. In this study, a prediction tool based on the Solution-Electro-Diffusion model (including the effect of solution composition) was developed and experimentally validated for the application of two polyamide-based NF membranes (NF270 and Desal DL) for the recovery of REEs and H2SO4 from three different synthetic solutions mimicking AMWs (pH¿1.0, 60¿mg/L REEs and, 25–600¿mg/L Al, Cu, Ca and Zn) differing in their Fe concentration (0–2125¿mg/L). Metals were effectively rejected (>98%), whereas H2SO4 was transported across the membrane (H+ rejections <30%). The mathematical model was able to predict the performance of both membranes as well as the potential scaling events associated with Fe and Al hydroxides and hydroxy-sulphates.
CitationLopez, J. [et al.]. From nanofiltration membrane permeances to design projections for the remediation and valorisation of acid mine waters. "Science of the total environment", 10 Octubre 2020, vol. 738, p. 1397807/1-139780/11.