Carbon nanotubes electrochemical membrane for micropollutant removal

#water reuse #low-pressure membrane process #adsorption #electrochemical oxidation #surface water
Schematic diagram of an electrochemical membrane reactor (EMR), which was designed and constructed with integrated membrane separation and electrochemically controlled processes, allowing efficient removal of micropollutant. The key components of the EMR includes an electrochemical membrane, a counter electrode, and a spacer.
(Left) Schematic diagram of the micro-electrochemical membrane reactor (EMR) designed for micropollutant treatment in water reuse and (right) the mechanisms of electrochemical processes involved within the micropollutant removal in the EMR.

Micropollutants pose serious risks to aquatic wildlife and public health even at trace concentrations (ng/L level). Efficient treatment of the micropollutants in water reuse is crucial in safeguarding the safety of the reclaimed water supply. The designed electrochemical membrane reactor (EMR) with a carbon nanotubes (CNT) membrane that enables simultaneously adsorption, membrane separation and electrochemical reactions is suitable for this. (Project-ID: 02WIL1555)

The severity of water pollution and increasing scarcity of secure drinking water supplies on a global scale have been widely recognized. In 2020, a quarter of population worldwide was estimated to lack access to safely managed drinking water service and nearly a half lack adequate sanitation. In this context, water reuse is paramount in meeting the challenge of severe water deficiencies facing humanity. The removal of micropollutants that pose significant risks to aquatic wildlife and public health at their trace concentrations is crucial for safe water reuse. Complete or even fractional elimination of trace-level micropollutants by conventional municipal wastewater treatment plants is difficult or unattainable. Many of these recalcitrant compounds pass through the treatment process and end up in vital aquatic environment and eventually contaminate surface water, groundwater and even drinking water.

Electrochemical membrane reactor (EMR) has potential to address this challenge. In the EMR process, a conductive membrane serves as the working electrode where the contaminants flows through the membrane pore channels whose electrochemical potential is controlled externally, thus achieving simultaneous electro-adsorption, membrane separation and electrochemical strategies. An EMR with a carbon nanotubes (CNTs) membrane was investigated as part of the NEMWARE project for the treatment of steroid hormone (SH) micropollutant in water at its environmentally relevant concentration (100 ng/L). In particular, the EMR has been able to achieve a > 95% of SH removal at an energy-efficient operating condition (low cell voltage of 2 V, and low pressure of 1 bar at 600 L/ The high efficiency of EMR is attributed to the synergies of the advection-enhanced mass transfer and effects of the electric field under the spatial confinement within nanoscale intraporous structures that contribute to accelerate reaction kinetics.

Water resource: Drinking water, Groundwater, Surface water
Type of product:
  • Technologies & processes
TRL: 4
    TRL (Technology Readiness Level)
  • TRL 1 - Basic principles observed
  • TRL 2 - Technology concept formulated
  • TRL 3 - Experimental proof of concept
  • TRL 4 - Technology validated in lab
  • TRL 5 - Technology validated in relevant environment (industrially relevant environment in the case of key enabling technologies)
  • TRL 6 - Technology demonstrated in relevant environment (industrially relevant environment in the case of key enabling technologies)
  • TRL 7 - System prototype demonstration in operational environment
  • TRL 8 - System complete and qualified
  • TRL 9 - Actual system proven in operational environment (competitive manufacturing in the case of key enabling technologies; or in space)
Application sector: Industry, Water resource management
Funding measure: DE-IL-WaTec
Project: NEMWARE

Contact and partners

Logo KIT - Institute for Advanced Membrane Technology (IAMT)
  • KIT - Institute for Advanced Membrane Technology (IAMT),
  • Karlsruhe Institute of Technology - Hermann-von-Helmholtz-Platz 1,
  • 76344 Eggenstein-Leopoldshafen
Prof. Dr.-Ing. Andrea Schäfer

The Hebrew University of Jerusalem - Faculty of Agriculture, Food and Environment, Department of Soil and Water Sciences,
Rehovot, Israel
Technion - Israel Institute of Technology,
Haifa, Israel

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