Recycling Heavy Metal Ions from Industrial Waste Water



Recycling metal ions is one of the main targets of nowadays industrial policy. Decontamination of industrial water streams is necessary for the health of people, to provide a good quality of life and to preserve the environment.


Although the technology already brings many recovery techniques still there exist many disagreements on which is the most adequate.

recycling1All have problems associated with them, e.g. chemical precipitation produces insoluble salts, electrolytic recovery expensive, ion exchange resins process is only used for small volumes of diluted solutions, because resins are rapidly saturated or concentration by evaporation is energy consuming. One alternative is based on the recognition, binding and release of specific molecules by the facilitated transport membranes. These recycling techniques require low energy consumption and low operating costs and are highly efficient. The presence of specific complexing receptors into the membrane which have structures able to recognise a solute by complementarity between their geometry and their binding sites is their main characteristic. However research has to be done in the area to produce selective, hight flux and durability of the membranes to make them of interests in industrial processes.

Macrocyclic Ligands:


catalysis1 All macrocycles of interest to this group incorporate thioethers as a metal binding unit. In some cases oxygen and/or nitrogen incorporated as a second type of coordinating element. Spacial constraints are achieved by the incorporation of rigid groups such as pyridine, thiophene and benzene rings. The three force different conformomers of the macrocycle, but additionaly provide distinct binding possibilities. Nitrogen in pyridine always participate in coordination, sulfur in thiophene only occasionally and we have never found benzene participating. The combination of these rigid and in some cases coordinating units with thioeters and oxygen in the organic backbone provide many possibilities to designe new macrocycles for specific purposes. In the drawing a macrocycle with a thiophene rigid group and three thioeters in the molecule is schown to coordinate exo-dentately to Cu(I) producing a dinuclear copper complex.


-“Membranes de transport asistido con receptores moleculares y sus aplicaciones”. CICYT(MAT94-0668-c03-01)

-“Membranes de transport con estabilidad mejorada para eliminación de metales pesados procedentes de aguas residuales industriales”. CIYT.(MAT93-1334-CE)

– “Recycling heavy metal ions and organics of biological interest by innovative separation membranes” (PL971301). INCO-COPERNICUS. EU

-“Facilitated Transport Membranes with Improved Stability for Removal of Heavy Metals from Industrial Waste Water”(PL 5760-92). BRITE / EURAM II,BREU-CT92-0294. Convocatoria 1992. EU

-“Materiales poliméricos Polipirrol/Metalacarboranos para purificación de aguas y separación de gases” (MAT98-0921).


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