Rational design of composite membranes for advanced heavy metal removal in wastewaters


  • Funding: Executive Unit for the Financing of Higher Education, Research, Development and Innovation (UEFISCDI)
  • Programme: PN II- Human Resources Programme – Young research teams 2021
  • Project number: PN-III-P1-1.1-TE-2021-0915
  • Research domain – New materials
  • Project title: “Rational design of composite membranes for advanced heavy metal removal in wastewaters” – I-ON-MEM
  • Financing contract: Nr. 135/13.05.2022
  • Total funding of the contract: 450.000 RON
  • Funding from the State Budget: 450.000 RON
  • Project duration: 24 months
  • Period of project implementation: 13.05.2022 – 12.05.2024
  • Contractor: National Institute for Research & Development in Chemistry and Petrochemistry – ICECHIM, Bucharest
  • Project Manager: PhD eng. Anita-Laura CHIRIAC  ()


            Water pollution by heavy metal ions is becoming a major environmental problem because of the high toxicity of some of these elements and their tendency to accumulate through the food chain, affecting all living organisms in a given ecological system. The present project proposes a new concept for the water treatment membranes with improved features in terms of hydrophilicity, porosity and specific surface area and higher retention capacity at low concentration of heavy metal ions in effluent. In this respect, I-ON-MEM proposal describes a feasible and original method for preparing performant and low-cost composite membranes, based on functionalised MWCNTs and terpolymer formulations for advanced wastewater treatments. An original part of the project refers to selecting terpolymer formulations for preparing either 100% synthesic or biofriendly matrix. Another original aspect will be represented by addressing the possible effects of various functionalization agents and methods upon the WMCNT-copolymer compatibility pore size of membranes and retention efficiency of different heavy metals. Non-covalent functionalization of MWCNTs by surfactants and by silylation with various organosilica agents will be performed. The results will be disseminated as follows: at least 3 scientific publications in ISI journals; at least 3 scientific communications, and patenting of any original aspect.


The goal of I-ON-MEM project is finding appropriate solutions to treat diluted metal-contaminated water streams with removal efficiencies over 90% by using only membrane technologies. In this respect, the general objective of the project will be the synthesis of original composite membranes for advanced heavy metal retention in wastewaters using electrodialysis.


The main results of the project refer to (i) Experimental models for functionalized MWCNTs, (ii) Experimental protocol for membrane testing by electrodialysis using synthetic wastewaters contaminated with heavy metals, (iii) Experimental models for neat and composite membranes, (iv) Laboratory technology for the preparation of composite membranes, which will be validated by (i) 3 scientific communications to international symposia/conferences, (ii) 3 ISI papers (sent/ accepted/published) and (iii) a patent application.