Date of Award

Spring 1996

Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy in Chemical Engineering - (Ph.D.)


Chemical Engineering, Chemistry and Environmental Science

First Advisor

Ching-Rong Huang

Second Advisor

Gordon Lewandowski

Third Advisor

Deran Hanesian

Fourth Advisor

Henry Shaw

Fifth Advisor

Winston W.S. Ho

Sixth Advisor

Norman N. Li


The emulsion liquid membrane (ELM) technique has been successfully applied on the removal of arsenic (As) from metallurgical wastewater and the removal of strontium (Sr) horn radioactive wastewater. This study consisted of experimental work and mathematical modeling.

Extraction of arsenic by an emulsion liquid membrane was firstly investigated. The liquid membrane used was composed of 2-ethylhexyl alcohol (2EHA) as the extractant, ECA436OJ as the surfactant, and Exxsol D-8O solvent (or heptane) the diluent. The sulfuric acid and sodium hydroxide solutions were use I as the external and internal phases, respectively. The arsenic removal efficiency reached 92% within 15 minutes in one stage. Extraction and stripping chemistries were postulated and investigated. It was observed that extraction efficiency and rate increase with the increase of acidic strength and alkali strength in the external and internal phases, respectively. It was also observed that the removal selectivity of arsenic over copper is extremely high.

Strontium-90 is one of the major radioactive metals appearing in nuclear wastewater. The emulsion liquid membrane process was investigated as a separation method by using the non-radioactive 87Sr as its substitute. In oar study, the membrane phase was composed of di-(2-ethylhexyl) phosphoric acid (D2EHPA) as the extractant EA4360J as the surfactant and Exxsol D-80 as the diluent. A sulfiric acid solution was used in the internal phase as the stripping agent. The pH range in the external phase was determined by the extraction isotherm. Under the most favorable operating condition, the strontium removal efficiency can reach 98% in two minutes.

Mass transfer of the emulsion liquid membrane (ELM) system was modeled mathematically. Our model took into account the following: mass transfer of solute across the film between the external phase and the membrane phase, chemical equilibrium of the extraction reaction at the external phase-membrane interface, simultaneous diffusion of the solute-carrier complex inside the globule membrane phase and stripping of the complex at the membrane-internal phase interface, chemical equilibrium of the stripping reaction at the membrane-internal phase interface and leakage of the solute from the internal phase to the external phase. Resulting simultaneous partial differential equations were solved analytically by the Laplace transform method. Four dimensionless groups were found with special physical meanings to characterize the emulsion liquid membrane systems. It not only predicted the concentration of solute in the external phase versus time, but also gave the concentration profile inside the membrane gobule and the interfacial concentration at the external-membrane phase interface at different time. The model predicted very well the experimental data obtained from the removal of arsenic and strontium by the emulsion liquid membranes.