Pressure-driven membrane processes for boron and arsenic removal: pH and synergistic effects

Aina Orell Regis, Johan Vanneste, Sarah Acker, Gisella Martínez, Juana Ticona, Vilma García, Francisco D. Alejo, Julia Zea, Richard Krahenbuhl, Gary Vanzin, Jonathan O. Sharp

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


This study analyzed novel synergistic effects on rejection of arsenic and boron during membrane-based treatment. The effect of pH on rejection was characterized for pure and mixed arsenate, arsenite and borate (As(V), As(III), and B respectively) solutions. The favorable effect of high pH was strongest for B and As(III) due to the similar charge evolution in the pH 7–11 range. While only significant for arsenate, both arsenic species exhibited higher rejections when boron was present. Analysis of watersheds in southern Peru revealed a correlation between arsenic and boron; synthetic river water containing 10 mg/L B (0.97 mmol/L) and 1 mg/L As (0.013 mmol/L) was subsequently tested. Both reverse osmosis (BW30) and nanofiltration membranes (NF90) produced a system permeate that complied with the WHO standards (1 mg/L B and 0.01 mg/L As) above pH 9 in these representative, contaminated waters. The combination of increasing the pH from 7 to 9.5 and the synergistic effect doubled the allowable concentration of As(V) in the feed for BW30 from 0.5 mg/L to 1.0 mg/L. In addition to informing treatment of surface and ground waters, findings could be applied to the reuse of high pH gold cyanidation wastewaters and enhancing boron rejection during seawater desalination.

Original languageEnglish
Article number115441
StatePublished - 15 Jan 2022

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
Funding for this project was provided by the Center for Mining Sustainability , a joint venture between the Universidad Nacional San Agustin (Arequipa, Peru) and Colorado School of Mines (USA). The authors thank Dupont for donating membranes utilized in this research. Tani Cath is acknowledged for the design of the data aquisition system and Labview interface. We thank the editor and anonymous reviewers for valuable feedback that improved this article.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2021 Elsevier B.V.


  • Arsenic
  • Boron
  • Nanofiltration
  • pH
  • Reverse osmosis


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