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Open Access Open Badges Research article

Performance evaluation of reverse osmosis technology for selected antibiotics removal from synthetic pharmaceutical wastewater

Mitra Gholami1, Roya Mirzaei1*, Roshanak Rezaei Kalantary1, Ahmad Sabzali2 and Fateme Gatei1

Author Affiliations

1 Depatment of Environmental Engineering, School of Public Health, Center for Water Quality Research, Tehran University of Medical Sciences, Tehran, Iran

2 Department of Environmental Health Engineering, School of Public Health, Isfahan University of Medical Sciences, Isfahan, Iran

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Iranian Journal of Environmental Health Science & Engineering 2012, 9:19  doi:10.1186/1735-2746-9-19

Published: 10 December 2012


This study addresses the possibility for low pressure reverse osmosis membrane (RE 2521, CSM) process to serve as an alternative to remove selected antibiotics (ampicillin and amoxicillin) from synthetic wastewater by changing operating conditions such as pH = 3, 6.5 and 10; Pressure = 9, 11 and13 (bar); antibiotic concentration = 10, 255 and 500(mg/L), and temperature = 20, 30 and 40°C. The experiment was designed based on Box-benken, which is a Response Surface methodology design (RSM), using Design Expert software. The concentration of antibiotics was measured by applying a UV-spectrophotometer (Cecil), at the wavelength of 254 nm. Results showed a range of rejection percentage from 73.52% to 99.36% and 75.1% to 98.8%, for amoxicillin and ampicillin, respectively. Considering the solute rejections and the membrane porosity show that the prevailing rejection mechanism of the examined antibiotics by the membrane was the size exclusion effect. The permeate flux for both of the antibiotics was 12–18.73 L/m2.h. Although the permeate flux and antibiotic rejection are influenced by operating pressure, pH, and temperature individually, the interaction between operating parameters did not have noticeable effects. According to the results obtained in this study, the application of RO membrane is recommended for the selected antibiotics to be removed to a considerable degree (up to 95%).

Amoxicillin; Ampicillin; Reverse osmosis (RO); Membrane technology; Pharmaceutical wastewater