Polymer Inclusion Membranes (PIM) for the Recovery of Potassium in the Presence of Competitive Cations

Anna Casadellà, Olivier Schaetzle, Dorothea C. Nijmeijer, Katja Loos

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Potassium is an important nutrient used in fertilizers but is not always naturally available We investigated the properties of polymer inclusion membranes (PIM) regarding their selective recovery of K+ over competitive ions typically present in urine (Na+ and NH4+). The greatest flux was observed when the ratio of mass 2-nitrophenyl octyl ether (2-NPOE) used as plasticizer to cellulose triacetate (CTA) used as polymer was 0.25. The highest flux was achieved with a content of 24.8 wt % of dicyclohexan-18-crown-6 (DCH18C6) used as carrier, although the highest selectivity was observed with a content of 14.0 wt % of DCH18C6. We also studied whether the transport mechanism occurring in our system was based on co-transport of a counter-ion or ion exchange. Two different receiving phases (ultrapure water and 100 mM HCl) were tested. Results on transport mechanisms suggest that co-transport of cations and anions is taking place across our PIMs. The membrane deteriorated and lost its properties when the receiving phase was acidic; we suggested that this was due to hydrolysis of CTA. The greatest flux and selectivity were observed in ultrapure water as receiving phase.
Original languageEnglish
Article number76
Pages (from-to)-
Number of pages14
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 2016


  • METIS-320392
  • IR-103515


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