PVA cryogel membranes as a promising tool for the retention and separation of metal ions from aqueous solutions



The sorption and transport of metal ions by poly(vinyl alcohol) hydrogel membranes (PVA HG), obtained by physical crosslinking through the freezing/thawing method, was analyzed using aqueous nitrate solutions of copper, lead, and nickel, at concentrations ranging from 1 to 100 mM, at 25°C. The sorption of heavy metal by PVA HG has been characterized by swelling and loading degrees. The effect of the heavy metals incorporation on the chemical properties of PVA HG matrices has been studied using SEM, to observe changes in the surface morphology of PVA HG membranes, and FTIR–ATR, aiming to monitor the heavy metals ions sorption into PVA hydrogel membranes. The analysis of permeation and diffusion coefficients of 100 mM aqueous solutions of Cu2+, Ni2+, and Pb2+ show that the diffusion process may be mainly described by hydrodynamic models; however, the transport process shows that the distribution coefficient for the different heavy metals are always higher than one, in agreement, with the sorption studies. © 2010 Wiley Periodicals, Inc. J Appl Polym Sci, 2010