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Membranes 2014, 4(1), 40-54; doi:10.3390/membranes4010040
Article

A Pervaporation Study of Ammonia Solutions Using Molecular Sieve Silica Membranes

1
, 1
, 1
, 2
, 1
, 2
, 3
 and 1,*
1 Institute for Sustainability and Innovation, College of Engineering and Science, Victoria University, P.O. Box 14428, Melbourne, Victoria 8001, Australia 2 FIMLab—Films and Inorganic Membrane Laboratory, School of Chemical Engineering, The University of Queensland, Brisbane, QLD 4072, Australia 3 City West Water, Melbourne, VIC 3020, Australia
* Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Received: 20 December 2013 / Revised: 10 January 2014 / Accepted: 6 February 2014 / Published: 17 February 2014
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Selected Papers from AMS8 Conference (July 2013, Xi’an, China))
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Abstract

An innovative concept is proposed to recover ammonia from industrial wastewater using a molecular sieve silica membrane in pervaporation (PV), benchmarked against vacuum membrane distillation (VMD). Cobalt and iron doped molecular sieve silica-based ceramic membranes were evaluated based on the ammonia concentration factor downstream and long-term performance. A modified low-temperature membrane evaluation system was utilized, featuring the ability to capture and measure ammonia in the permeate. It was found that the silica membrane with confirmed molecular sieving features had higher water selectivity over ammonia. This was due to a size selectivity mechanism that favoured water, but blocked ammonia. However, a cobalt doped silica membrane previously treated with high temperature water solutions demonstrated extraordinary preference towards ammonia by achieving up to a 50,000 mg/L ammonia concentration (a reusable concentration level) measured in the permeate when fed with 800 mg/L of ammonia solution. This exceeded the concentration factor expected by the benchmark VMD process by four-fold, suspected to be due to the competitive adsorption of ammonia over water into the silica structure with pores now large enough to accommodate ammonia. However, this membrane showed a gradual decline in selectivity, suspected to be due to the degradation of the silica material/pore structure after several hours of operation.
Keywords: molecular sieve silica membrane; pervaporation; vacuum membrane distillation; ammonia removal; competitive adsorption molecular sieve silica membrane; pervaporation; vacuum membrane distillation; ammonia removal; competitive adsorption
This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.

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MDPI and ACS Style

Yang, X.; Fraser, T.; Myat, D.; Smart, S.; Zhang, J.; Diniz da Costa, J.C.; Liubinas, A.; Duke, M. A Pervaporation Study of Ammonia Solutions Using Molecular Sieve Silica Membranes. Membranes 2014, 4, 40-54.

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