Water-soluble amine and imine polymers with the ability to bind metal ions in conjunction with membrane filtration



The commercial polymers poly(ethylene imine) (PEI), poly(ethylene imine epichlorohydrin), and poly(dimethylamine-co-epichlorohydrin) were purified and fractionated by ultrafiltration. Their metal-ion-binding properties with respect to different ligand groups and the effect of the concentration on the retention properties were investigated. The amine ligands of the polymers formed the most stable complexes with the metal ions. In general, there was an effect of the pH and polymer fraction size on the retention properties. As the pH and polymer fraction size increased, the affinity to bind metal ions also increased. PEI had the highest metal-retention values, particularly at higher pHs, at which the amine groups were nonprotonated and could coordinate easily with the metal ions. Only Pb(II) was poorly retained. The affinity for all the metal ions, except Pb(II), increased significantly at pH 5. The metal-ion retention decreased quickly as the filtration factor increased, except for Cu(II), Co(II), Ni(II), Cd(II), and Zn(II) ions, which were retained by over 40% at a filtration factor of 4. For other metal ions such as Pb(II), Ca(II), and Mg(II), only 10% remained bound to the polymer. © 2005 Wiley Periodicals, Inc. J Appl Polym Sci 96: 222–231, 2005