A series of experiments was performed to measure the retention of a class of functionalized nanoparticles (NPs) on porous (microfiltration and ultrafiltration) membranes. The findings impact engineered water and wastewater treatment using membrane technology, characterization and analytical schemes for NP detection, and the use of NPs in waste treatment scenarios. The NPs studied were composed of silver, titanium dioxide, and gold; had organic coatings to yield either positive or negative surface charge; and were between 2 and 10nm in diameter. NP solutions were applied to polymeric membranes composed of different materials and pore sizes (ranging from ~2nm [3kDa molecular weight cutoff] to 0.2μm). Greater than 99% rejection was observed of positively charged NPs by negatively charged membranes even though pore diameters were up to 20 times the NP diameter; thus, sorption caused rejection. Negatively charged NPs were less well rejected, but behavior was dependant not only on surface functionality but on NP core material (Ag, TiO 2, or Au). NP rejection depended more upon NP properties than membrane properties; all of the negatively charged polymeric membranes behaved similarly. The NP-membrane interaction behavior fell into four categories, which are defined and described here.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)288-295
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of Hazardous Materials
StatePublished - Apr 15 2012


  • Adsorption
  • Fouling
  • Microfiltration
  • Separation
  • Ultrafiltration

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Environmental Engineering
  • Environmental Chemistry
  • Waste Management and Disposal
  • Pollution
  • Health, Toxicology and Mutagenesis


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