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A study of selected phytoestrogens retention by reverse osmosis and nanofiltration membranes - the role of fouling and scaling

Mariusz Dudziak and Michał Bodzek

Faculty of Environmental and Energy Engineering, Silesian University of Technology, Konarskiego 18, 44-100 Gliwice, Poland



Received: 15 April 2009  Revised: 23 May 2009  Accepted: 25 May 2009

Abstract: Fouling and scaling are common phenomena that accompany membrane filtration and are caused by the presence of organic and inorganic matter in water, which may affect the removal of low-molecular mass organic micropollutants. Comparative filtration of deionized water containing selected phytoestrogens (biochanin A, daidzein, genistein, and coumestrol) was carried out using one new membrane and one contaminated with organic or inorganic matter. Two commercial Osmonics DS membranes were selected for the research, reverse osmosis DS3SE and nanofiltration DS5DK. Filtration was carried out in the dead-end mode. Higher removal of phytoestrogens was caused by reverse osmosis and retention depended on the molar mass of the compound. The decrease in membrane efficiency associated with fouling or scaling brings about an increase in the retention coefficient of phytoestrogens during both reverse osmosis and nanofiltration. The highest increase in phytoestrogen retention was found for the nanofiltraton membrane which was more susceptible to fouling than the osmotic one. This confirms the effect of membrane porosity on the phenomenon studied. The increase in micropollutants removal observed after fouling or scaling was caused by the modification of the membrane surface, hindered diffusion of the compound, and intensified or limited adsorption of micropollutants on the membrane surface.

Keywords: phytoestrogens - membrane processes - retention mechanism - fouling - scaling

Full paper is available at

DOI: 10.2478/s11696-009-0072-0


Chemical Papers 64 (2) 139–146 (2010)

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