Separating NOM from salts in ion exchange brine with ceramic nanofiltration

I. Caltran*, L. C. Rietveld, H. L. Shorney-Darby, S. G.J. Heijman

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

26 Citations (Scopus)
148 Downloads (Pure)


In drinking water treatment, natural organic matter (NOM) is effectively removed from surface water using ion exchange (IEX). A main drawback of using IEX for NOM removal is the production of spent IEX regeneration brine, a polluting waste that is expensive to discharge. In this work, we studied ceramic nanofiltration as a treatment for the spent NOM-rich brine, with the aim to reduce the volume of this waste and to recycle salt. Compared to polymeric nanofiltration, the fouling was limited. When NOM is rejected and concentrated, a clean permeate with the regeneration salt (NaCl) could be produced and reused in the IEX regeneration process. Bench scale studies revealed that NOM could be effectively separated from the NaCl solution by steric effects. However, the separation of NaCl from other salts present in the brine, such as Na2SO4, was not sufficient for reuse purposes. The low sulphate rejection was mainly due to the low zeta potential of the membrane at the high ionic strength of the brine. The permeate of the ceramic nanofiltration should be treated further to obtain a sodium chloride quality that can be recycled as a regenerant solution for ion exchange. Further treatment steps will benefit from the removal of NOM from the brine.

Original languageEnglish
Article number115894
Number of pages8
JournalWater Research
Publication statusPublished - 2020


  • Ceramic nanofiltration
  • Ion exchange
  • NOM-Rich brine


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