Ultrafiltration behavior of major ions (Na, Ca, Mg, F, Cl, and SO4) in natural waters. Academic Article uri icon


  • Aquatic colloids, including macromolecules and microparticles, with sizes ranging between 1 nm to 1 micron, play important roles in the mobility and bioavailability of heavy metals and other contaminants in natural waters. Cross-flow ultrafiltration has become one of the most commonly used techniques for isolating aquatic colloids. However, the ultrafiltration behavior of chemical species remains poorly understood. We report here the permeation behavior of major ions (Na, Ca, Mg, F, Cl, and SO4) in natural waters during ultrafiltration using an Amicon 1 kDa ultrafiltration membrane (S10N1). Water samples across a salinity gradient of 0-20@1000 were collected from the Trinity River and Galveston Bay. The permeation behavior of major ions was well predicted by a permeation model, resulting in a constant permeation coefficient for each ion. The value of the model-derived permeation coefficient (Pc) was 0.99 for Na, 0.97 for Cl, and 0.95 for F, respectively, in Trinity River waters. Values of Pc close to 1 indicate that retention of Na, Cl, and F by the 1 kDa membrane during ultrafiltration was indeed minimal (< 1-5%). In contrast, significant (14-36%) retention was observed for SO4, Ca, and Mg in Trinity River waters, with a Pc value of 0.64, 0.82, and 0.86 for SO4, Ca and Mg, respectively. However, these retained major ions can further permeate through the 1 kDa membrane during diafiltration with ultrapure water. The selective retention of major ions during ultrafiltration may have important implications for the measurement of chemical and physical speciation of trace elements when using cross-flow ultrafiltration membranes to separate colloidal species from natural waters. Our results also demonstrate that the percent retention of major ions during ultrafiltration decreases with increasing salinity or ionic strength. This retention is largely attributed to electrostatic repulsion by the negatively charged cartridge membrane.

published proceedings

  • Water Res

author list (cited authors)

  • Guo, L., Hunt, B. J., & Santschi, P. H

citation count

  • 68

complete list of authors

  • Guo, L||Hunt, BJ||Santschi, PH

publication date

  • April 2001