Wastewater containing copper and cadmium can be produced by several industries. The application of both reverse osmosis (RO) and nanofiltration (NF) technologies for the treatment of wastewater containing copper and cadmium ions to reduce fresh water consumption and environmental degradation was investigated. Synthetic wastewater samples containing Cu2+ and Cd2+ ions at various concentrations were prepared and subjected to treatment by RO and NF in the laboratory. The results showed that high removal efficiency of the heavy metals could be achieved by RO process (98% and 99% for copper and cadmium, respectively). NF, however, was capable of removing more than 90% of the copper ions existing in the feed water. The effectiveness of RO and NF membranes in treating wastewater containing more than one heavy metal was also investigated. The results showed that the RO membrane was capable of treating wastewater with an initial concentration of 500 ppm and reducing the ion concentration to about 3 ppm (99.4% removal), while the average removal efficiency of NF was 97%. The low level of the heavy metals concentration in the permeate implies that water with good quality could be reclaimed for further reuse.
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