Inorganic ligand-modified, colloid-enhanced ultrafiltration: A novel method for removing uranium from aqueous solution

Jim D. Roach, Jesus H. Zapien

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

23 Citations (Scopus)


Inorganic ligand-modified, colloid-enhanced ultrafiltration (ILM-CEUF) is as a novel membrane-based separation method for selectively removing target ions from aqueous solution. Traditional colloid-enhanced ultrafiltration (CEUF) is a well-established membrane-based separation technique that can be used to separate metal ions from other aqueous solution components. Ligand-modified, colloid-enhanced ultrafiltration (LM-CEUF) uses organic ligands that selectively complex target ions and also associate with a water-soluble colloid, such as a surfactant micelle or polyelectrolyte. The colloid, associated -ligand, and target ion are then concentrated using an ultrafilter, producing a filtrate with a low concentration of the target ion. While traditional LM-CEUF techniques are able to provide quantitative separations of a variety of ionic pollutants, the high costs of the chelating agents make such techniques nonviable in most remediation schemes. This study investigated the replacement of organic ligands with carbonate for the selective removal of U(VI) from aqueous solution. In slightly to moderately basic solutions containing carbonate, UO2(CO3)34- can be made to dominate the U(VI) speciation. Using poly(diallyldimethylammonium) chloride, the effectiveness and efficiency of ILM-CEUF for removing U(VI) from other aqueous solution components was investigated as a function of carbonate concentration, pH, and ionic strength. Uranium separations of greater than 99.6% were achieved; even in the presence of large excesses of competing ions. The specific separation of U(VI) from Sr2+ was also examined.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)4751-4759
Number of pages9
JournalWater Research
Issue number18
Publication statusPublished - Oct 2009



  • Carbonate
  • Colloid-enhanced ultrafiltration
  • Equilibrium dialysis
  • Poly(diallyldimethylammonium) chloride
  • Polyelectrolyte
  • Ultrafiltration
  • Uranium

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ecological Modelling
  • Water Science and Technology
  • Waste Management and Disposal
  • Pollution

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