Addition of a magnetite layer onto a polysulfone water treatment membrane to enhance virus removal

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Courtesy of IWA Publishing

The applicability of low-pressure membranes systems in distributed (point of use) water treatment is hindered by, among other things, their inability to remove potentially harmful viruses and ions via size exclusion. According to the USEPA and the Safe Drinking Water Act, drinking water treatment processes must be designed for 4-log virus removal. Batch experiments using magnetite nanoparticle (nano-Fe3O4) suspensions and water filtration experiments with polysulfone membranes coated with nano-Fe3O4 were conducted to assess the removal of a model virus (bacteriophage MS2). The membranes were coated via a simple filtration protocol. Unmodified membranes were a poor adsorbent for MS2 bacteriophage with less than 0.5-log removal, whereas membranes coated with magnetite nanoparticles exhibited a removal efficiency exceeding 99.99% (4-log). Thus, a cartridge of PSf membranes coated with nano-Fe3O4 particles could be used to remove viruses from water. Such membranes showed negligible iron leaching into the filtrate, thus obviating concern about coloured water. Further research is needed to reduce the loss of water flux caused by coating.

Keywords: electrostatic adsorption, nanomagnetite, virus removal, water filtration

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