The interaction between organic fractions in oil sands process-affected water (OSPW) and three polymeric membranes with varying hydrophilicity (nylon, polyvinylidene fluoride and polytetrafluoroethylene) at different pHs was studied to evaluate the impact of filtration on the quantification of acid-extractable fraction (AEF) and naphthenic acids (NAs). Four functional groups predominated in OSPW (amine, phosphoryl, carboxyl and hydroxyl) as indicated by the linear programming method. The nylon membranes were the most hydrophilic and exhibited the lowest AEF removal at pH of 8.7. However, the adsorption of AEF on the membranes increased as the pH of OSPW decreased due to hydrophobic interactions between the membrane surfaces and the protonated molecules. The use of ultra pressure liquid chromatography-high resolution mass spectrometry (UPLC/HRMS) showed insignificant adsorption of NAs on the tested membranes at pH 8.7. However, 26 ± 2.4% adsorption of NAs was observed at pH 5.3 following the protonation of NAs species. For the nylon membrane, excessive carboxylic acids in the commercial NAs caused the formation of negatively charged assisted hydrogen bonds, resulting in increased adsorption at pH 8.2 (25%) as compared to OSPW (0%). The use of membranes for filtration of soluble compounds from complex oily wastewaters before quantification analysis of AEF and NAs should be examined prior to application.

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