Removal of the Natural Hormone Estrone from Aqueous Solutions Using Nanofiltration and Reverse Osmosis

Andrea Schaefer, L. D. Nghiem, T. D. Waite

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The ability of a variety of nanofiltration and reverse osmosis membranes to retain the natural hormone estrone are examined here as a function of solution conditions. While size exclusion dominates retention with the tighter membranes, both size exclusion and adsorptive effects appear to be instrumental in maintaining high retention on nanofiltration membranes that otherwise exhibit relatively low ion retentions. These adsorptive effects may be driven by hydrogen bonding between estrone and the membrane. Electrostatic attraction appears to aid retention with an apparent slight decrease in retention at high NaCl concentrations. Deprotonation of estrone leads to a significant decrease in retention, most likely as a result of the effect of strong electrostatic repulsive forces decreasing the proximity of the negatively charged estrone to the negatively charged membrane surface and thus lowering the potential for adsorptive retention. This deprotonation effect is absent for tight RO membranes. The results reported here indicate that while open nanofiltration membranes may be effective in retaining estrone under some conditions, the extent of retention may be very susceptible to maintenance of adsorptive capacity at the membrane surface and depend on solution chemistry.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)182-188
JournalEnvironmental Science and Technology
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2003


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