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Removal of zinc and lead ions by polymer-enhanced ultrafiltration using unmodified starch as novel binding polymer


The removal of zinc and lead from aqueous dilute solutions by polymer-enhanced ultrafiltration process using unmodified starch as a new binding polymer was studied. Experiments were performed to determine the effects of transmembrane pressure, pH, concentration of metal ions on the retention and permeate flux. The performance of the proposed new binding polymer was compared to that of polyethyleneimine a conventional polymer frequently used in polymer-enhanced ultrafiltration. The retention of zinc and lead ions reached 96 and 66 %, respectively, using 0.05 % unmodified starch at pH 7. Overall unmodified starch showed better retention for zinc ions then polyethyleneimine, whereas polyethyleneimine retention for lead ions was higher. Solution pH was found to have little effect on flux.

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The authors acknowledge financial support from the University of Malaya, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia through the Postgraduate Research Fund (PPP Grant) with grant PS 104-2010B and PV 092-2011B.

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Correspondence to M. K. Aroua.




Molecular weight cut-off (Da)




Rejection coefficient/retention


Membrane area (cm2)


Concentration of metal ion in permeate (mg/l)


Concentration of metal ion in feed (mg/l)


Metal ion


Coordination index of ligand L with metal Me


Value number of metal molecule coordination


Enhanced Ultrafiltration


Permeate water flux (cm/min)

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Baharuddin, N.H., Sulaiman, N.M.N. & Aroua, M.K. Removal of zinc and lead ions by polymer-enhanced ultrafiltration using unmodified starch as novel binding polymer. Int. J. Environ. Sci. Technol. 12, 1825–1834 (2015).

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  • Complexing agents
  • Metals
  • Polyethyleneimine
  • Separation
  • Water soluble