Group Contribution Method to Predict the Mass Transfer Coefficients of Organics through Various RO Membranes

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Department of Civil, Environmental, and Geospatial Engineering


Reverse osmosis (RO) is a membrane technology that separates dissolved species from water. RO has been applied for the removal of chemical contaminants from water for potable reuse applications. The presence of a wide variety of influent chemical contaminants and the insufficient rejection of low-molecular-weight neutral organics by RO calls for the need to develop a model that predicts the rejection of various organics. In this study, we develop a group contribution method (GCM) to predict the mass transfer coefficients by fragmenting the structure of low-molecular-weight neutral organics into small parts that interact with the RO membrane. Overall, 54 organics including 26 halogenated and oxygenated alkanes, 8 alkenes, and 20 alkyl and halobenzenes were used to determine 39 parameters to calibrate for 6 different RO membranes, including 4 brackish water and 2 seawater membranes. Through six membranes, approximately 80% of calculated rejection was within an error goal (i.e., ±5%) from the experimental observation. To extend the GCM for a reference RO membrane, ESPA2-LD, 14 additional organics were included from the literature to calibrate nitrogen-containing functional groups of nitrosamine, nitriles, and amide compounds. Overall, 49 organics (72% of 68 compounds) from calibration and 7 compounds (87.5% of 8 compounds) from prediction were within the error goal.

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Environmental science & technology