Thiol-Functionalized Membranes for Mercury Capture from Water

Sebastián Hernández, Md Saiful Islam, Samuel Thompson, Madison Kearschner, Evan Hatakeyama, Nga Malekzadeh, Thomas Hoelen, Dibakar Bhattacharyya

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

8 Scopus citations


Pore functionalized membranes with appropriate ion exchange/chelate groups allow toxic metal sorption under convective flow conditions. This study explores the sorption capacity of ionic mercury in a polyvinylidene fluoride-poly(acrylic acid) (PVDF-PAA) functionalized membrane immobilized with cysteamine (MEA). Two methods of MEA immobilization to the PVDF-PAA membrane have been assessed: (i) ion exchange (IE) and (ii) carbodiimide cross-linker chemistry using 1-(3-dimethylaminopropyl)-3-ethyl carbodiimide hydrochloride (EDC) and N-hydroxysuccinimide (NHS), known as EDC/NHS coupling. The ion exchange method demonstrates that cysteamine (MEA) can be immobilized effectively on PVDF-PAA membranes without covalent attachment. The effectiveness of the MEA immobilized membranes to remove ionic mercury from the water was evaluated by passing a dissolved mercury(II) nitrate solution through the membranes. The sorption capacity of mercury for MEA immobilized membrane prepared by the IE method is 1015 mg/g PAA. On the other hand, the sorption capacity of mercury for MEA immobilized membrane prepared by EDC/NHS chemistry is 2446 mg/g PAA, indicating that membrane functionalization by EDC/NHS coupling enhanced mercury sorption 2.4 times compared to the IE method. The efficiencies of Hg removal are 94.1 ± 1.1 and 99.1 ± 0.1% for the MEA immobilized membranes prepared by IE and EDC/NHS coupling methods, respectively. These results show potential applications of MEA immobilized PVDF-PAA membranes for industrial wastewater treatment specifically from energy and mining industries to remove mercury and other toxic metals.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)5287-5295
Number of pages9
JournalIndustrial and Engineering Chemistry Research
Issue number12
StatePublished - Mar 25 2020

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This work is supported by Chevron Energy Technology Company, Richmond, CA. It is also partially supported by the National Institutes of Environmental Health Sciences (NIEHS-SRC) (Grant P42ES007380) and by NSF-EPSCoR (Grant 1355438). We thank Michael J. Detisch of Department of Chemical and Materials Engineering for his support during XPS analysis. We also acknowledge the support of the Environmental Research Training Laboratory (ERTL) and the Light Microscopy Core at the University of Kentucky for use of the facilities.

Publisher Copyright:
Copyright © 2019 American Chemical Society.

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Chemistry (all)
  • Chemical Engineering (all)
  • Industrial and Manufacturing Engineering


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