Fabrication of ultrathin graphene oxide-coated membrane with hydrophilic properties for arsenate removal from water

Document Type : Original Article


1 Environmental Health Research Center, Kurdistan University of Medical Sciences, Sanandaj, Iran

2 Center for Water Quality Research (CWQR), Institute for Environmental Research (IER), Tehran University of Medical Sciences, Tehran, Iran

3 Department of Environmental Health Engineering, School of Public Health, Tehran University of Medical Sciences, Tehran, Iran

4 Department of Environmental Health Engineering, Faculty of Health and Nutrition, Lorestan University of Medical Sciences, Khorramabad, Iran

5 Research Center for Environmental Pollutants, Qom University of Medical Sciences, Qom, Iran

6 Department of Public Health, Neyshabur University of Medical Sciences, Neyshabur, Iran


Terms and conditions of current drinking water quality standards, including reducing the maximum arsenic concentration from 50 μgl-1 to 10 μgl-1 and predicted stricter standards in future, reveals the necessity for development of new technologies. This study aimed to prepare and evaluate a new nanocomposite membrane using graphene oxide (GO) thin layer to remove arsenic (v) from water. To fabricate the membrane, initially GO was prepared using the modified Hummers' method and then to gain a narrow-dispersed GO dispersion, several times centrifugation and sonication were performed. Then resultant dispersed GO was coated on a microporous flat-sheet polyethersulfone support by coating/deposition and vacuum filtration process. Performance of the synthesized membrane was assessed using a dead end filtration system. The results showed that pure water flux decreased as the coated GO thickness increased. Among the three prepared membranes, the greatest flux was attributed to M1 membrane with the value of 398.5 lm-2h-1 and the minimum flux was for M3 with a value of 131.3 lm-2h-1 at 4 bar of pressure. Furthermore, by increasing the coated GO, rejection of arsenate ions increased significantly. With initial concentration of 1000 ± 20 μgl-1, percentage of arsenate rejection for M1, M2 and M3 membranes were 41.8%, 73.5% and 86.7%, respectively. Relatively high removal by this novel membrane can be due to the exceptional properties of GO nanostructure and the presence of hydrophilic functional groups. 


1. Joseph T, Dubey B, McBean EA. A critical review of arsenic exposures for Bangladeshi adults. Sci Total Environ 2015; 527-528: 540-51.
2. Ebrahimi R, Maleki A, Shahmoradi B, Daraei H, Mahvi AH, Barati AH. Elimination of arsenic contamination from water using chemically modified wheat straw. Desalin Water Treat 2013; 51(10-12): 2306-16.
3. Sato Y, Kang M, Kamei T, Magara Y. Performance of nanofiltration for arsenic removal. Water Res 2002; 36(13): 3371-7.
4. Jain CK, Singh RD. Technological options for the removal of arsenic with special reference to South East Asia. J Environ Manage 2012; 107: 1-18.
5. Saitua H, Gil R, Padilla AP. Experimental investigation on arsenic removal with a nanofiltration pilot plant from naturally contaminated groundwater. Desalination 2011; 274(1-3): 1-6.
6. Ntim SA, Mitra S. Adsorption of arsenic on multiwall carbon nanotube-zirconia nanohybrid for potential drinking water purification. J Colloid Interface Sci 2012; 375(1): 154-9.
7. Sabbatini P, Yrazu F, Rossi F, Thern G, Marajofsky A, Fidalgo de Cortalezzi MM. Fabrication and characterization of iron oxide ceramic membranes for arsenic removal. Water Res 2010; 44(19): 5702-12.
8. Rezaee R, Nasseri S, Mahvi AH, Nabizadeh R, Mousavi SA, Rashidi A, et al. Fabrication and characterization of a polysulfone-graphene oxide nanocomposite membrane for arsenate rejection from water. J Environ Health Sci Eng 2015; 13: 61.
9. Jafari A, Mahvi AH, Nasseri S, Rashidi A, Nabizadeh R, Rezaee R. Ultrafiltration of natural organic matter from water by vertically aligned carbon nanotube membrane. J Environ Health Sci Eng 2015; 13: 51.
10. Pendergasta MT, Hoek EM. A review of water treatment membrane nanotechnologies. Energy Environ Sci 2011; 4(6): 1946-71.
11. Ng LY, Mohammad AW, Leo CP, Hilal N. Polymeric membranes incorporated with metal/metal oxide nanoparticles: A comprehensive review. Desalination 2013; 308: 15-33.
12. Shi X, Tal G, Hankins NP, Gitis V. Fouling and cleaning of ultrafiltration membranes: A review. J Water Process Eng 2014; 1: 121-38.
13. Li N, Liu L, Yang F. Highly conductive graphene/PANi-phytic acid modified cathodic filter membrane and its antifouling property in EMBR in neutral conditions. Desalination 2014; 338: 10-6.
14. Vatanpour V, Madaeni SS, Moradian R, Zinadini S, Astinchap B. Fabrication and characterization of novel antifouling nanofiltration membrane prepared from oxidized multiwalled carbon nanotube/polyethersulfone nanocomposite. J Memb Sci 2011; 375(1-2): 284-94.
15. Yin J, Deng B. Polymer-matrix nanocomposite membranes for water treatment. J Memb Sci 2015; 479: 256-75.
16. Han Y, Xu Z, Gao C. Ultrathin graphene nanofiltration membrane for water purification. Adv Funct Mater 2013; 23(29): 3693-700.
17. Khazaei M, Nasseri S, Ganjali MR, Khoobi M, Nabizadeh R, Mahvi AH, et al. Response surface modeling of lead () removal by graphene oxide-Fe3O4 nanocomposite using central composite design. J Environ Health Sci Eng 2016; 14: 2.
18. Zhao C, Xu X, Chen J, Yang F. Effect of graphene oxide concentration on the morphologies and antifouling properties of PVDF ultrafiltration membranes. J Environ Chem Eng 2013; 1(3): 349-54.
19. Ganesh BM, Isloor AM, Ismail AF. Enhanced hydrophilicity and salt rejection study of graphene oxide-polysulfone mixed matrix membrane. Desalination 2013; 313: 199-207.
20. Xia S, Ni M. Preparation of poly(vinylidene fluoride) membranes with graphene oxide addition for natural organic matter removal. J Memb Sci 2015; 473: 54-62.
21. Zinadini S, Zinatizadeh AA, Rahimi M, Vatanpour V, Zangeneh H. Preparation of a novel antifouling mixed matrix PES membrane by embedding graphene oxide nanoplates. J Memb Sci 2014; 453: 292-301.
22. Wang Z, Yu H, Xia J, Zhang F, Li F, Xia Y, et al. Novel GO-blended PVDF ultrafiltration membranes. Desalination 2012; 299: 50-4.
23. Hummers WS, Offeman RE. Preparation of graphitic oxide. J Am Chem Soc 1958; 80(6): 1339.
24. Eaton AD, Franson MA. Standard methods for the examination of water & wastewater. Washington, DC: American Public Health Association; 2005.
25. Lin Y, Jin J, Song M. Preparation and characterisation of covalent polymer functionalized graphene oxide. J Mater Chem 2011; 21(10): 3455-61.
26. Zhao H, Wu L, Zhou Z, Zhang L, Chen H. Improving the antifouling property of polysulfone ultrafiltration membrane by incorporation of isocyanate-treated graphene oxide. Phys Chem Chem Phys 2013; 15(23): 9084-92.
27. Sun M, Su Y, Mu C, Jiang Z. Improved antifouling property of pes ultrafiltration membranes using additive of silica? PVP nanocomposite. Ind Eng Chem Res 2010; 49(2): 790-6.
28. Song JJ, Huang Y, Nam SW, Yu M, Heo J, Her N, et al. Ultrathin graphene oxide membranes for the removal of Humic acid. Sep Purif Technol 2015; 144: 162-7.
29. Hu M, Mi B. Enabling graphene oxide nanosheets as water separation membranes. Environ Sci Technol 2013; 47(8): 3715-23.
30. Shah P, Murthy CN. Studies on the porosity control of MWCNT/polysulfone composite membrane and its effect on metal removal. J Memb Sci 2013; 437: 90-8.