Publication Details

Tu, K. L., Fujioka, T., Khan, S. J., Poussade, Y., Roux, A., Drewes, J. E., Chivas, A. & Nghiem, L. D. (2013). Boron as a surrogate for N‑nitrosodimethylamine rejection by reverse osmosis membranes in potable water reuse applications. Environmental Science and Technology (Washington), 47 (12), 6425-6430.


The results of this study reveal a strong linear correlation (R2 = 0.95) between the rejections of boron and N-nitrosodimethylamine (NDMA) by six different reverse osmosis (RO) membranes, suggesting that boron can be used as a surrogate for NDMA rejection. This proposal is based on the premise that the rejection of both boric acid and NDMA is governed by steric hindrance and that they have similar molecular dimensions. The concept proposed here is shown to be valid at pH 8 or below where boron exists as the neutral boric acid species and NDMA is also a neutral solute. Observed changes in the rejections of these two species, as a function of permeate fluxes and feed solution temperatures, were also almost identical. Boron rejection increased from 21 to 79%, and the correlation coefficient of the linear regression between boron and NDMA rejections was 0.99 as the permeate flux increased from 5 to 60 L m−2 h−1. Similarly, a linear correlation between boron and NDMA rejections was observed as the feed solution temperature increased from 10 to 40 °C. This linear correlation was also validated in a tertiary treated effluent matrix.

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