Development of a novel biochar/PSF mixed matrix membrane and study of key parameters in treatment of copper and lead contaminated water

Jinsong He, Yihua Song, J. Paul Chen*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

19 Scopus citations


Mixed matrix membrane (MMM) has attracted increasing attentions in various applications, such as water treatment. In this study, an innovative biochar/polysulfone (PSF) mixed matrix hollow fiber membrane was fabricated by incorporating micro-sized biochar particles in the PSF matrix. It was demonstrated that the membrane was more hydrophilic than the pure PSF membrane. Higher water flux was obtained. The adsorption of copper and lead on the MMM increased as the pH was increased with the maximum adsorption capacity observed at pH > 4.5. The adsorption equilibrium was established in 7 and 12 h for lead and copper, respectively. The adsorption kinetics and isotherm followed the intraparticle surface diffusion model and Freundlich isotherm, respectively. The presence of humic acid (HA) had a little effect on the adsorption, while the ionic strength showed an adverse effect on the removal. In addition, the feed concentration and cross flow rate significantly affected the removal efficiency in a continuous filtration mode. The increase in feed concentration and cross flow rate resulted in a reduction in the volume of treated permeate that had the copper/lead concentrations below the regulated levels for drinking water. The MMM exhibited an excellent regeneration-reuse performance in the removal of both copper and lead. Finally, our mechanism studies indicated that the uptake of heavy metals was controlled by a combination of key reactions of complexation, ion-exchange and precipitation. This study indicated that the MMM can be applied as an effective and eco-friendly material for the treatment of heavy metals contaminated water.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1033-1045
Number of pages13
StatePublished - 2017
Externally publishedYes


  • Adsorption
  • Complexation
  • Filtration
  • Heavy metals
  • Ion exchange
  • Mixed matrix membrane

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