Mechanistic interpretation of solute permeation through a fully aromatic polyamide reverse osmosis membrane

Richard I. Urama, Benito J. Mariñas

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The objective of this study was to assess the contribution of various mass transfer steps (concentration polarization, partitioning, and diffusive and convective transport) toward overall permeation of major solute sodium chloride (NaCl), and trace component nitrobenzene across the fully aromatic polyamide FT-30® membrane. Experiments were performed with a closed-loop flat-leaf reverse osmosis apparatus. Feed solutions tested contained 2000, 4000 or 6000 mg/l NaCl, and 10 mg/l nitrobenzene at pH 6 and 25°C. Solute rejection ranged from 95 to 99.2% for NaCl and from 20 to 60% for nitrobenzene. The overall permeation of both NaCl and nitrobenzene appeared to be primarily by partitioning at water/membrane interfaces and diffusion across the membrane phase. Convection accounting for less than 25 and 0.4% of the overall NaCl and nitrobenzene permeation, respectively, appeared to be the result of a small leakage of feed solution through membrane imperfections estimated at 0.14% of the overall product water flux. Solute permeation was affected by concentration polarization taking place primarily within a fouling film of corrosion products. Concentration polarization levels corresponded to solute concentrations next to the feed water/membrane interface ranging from 5 to 70% (NaCl), and from 8 to 140% (nitrobenzene) higher than bulk feed concentrations.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)267-280
Number of pages14
JournalJournal of Membrane Science
Issue number2
StatePublished - Jan 22 1997


  • Concentration polarization
  • Flat-leaf cell
  • Fully aromatic polyamide membrane
  • Nitrobenzene
  • Reverse osmosis
  • Sodium chloride
  • Solute permeation

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry
  • General Materials Science
  • Physical and Theoretical Chemistry
  • Filtration and Separation


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