Chemical reduction was firstly employed to treat synthetic wastewaters of various compositions prepared to simulate the retentate stream of polyelectrolyte enhanced ultrafiltration (PEUF). With fixed Cu:polyethylenimine (PEI) monomer:dithionite molar ratio, increasing copper concentration increases copper removal efficiency. Under fixed Cu:dithionite molar ratio and fixed Cu concentration, increasing PEI monomer:copper molar ratio decreases copper removal efficiency. The formation of nano-sized copper particles, which readily pass through 0.45 μm filter used for sample pretreatment before residual copper analysis, might be the reason behind the decreasing copper removal efficiency observed. Particle size analysis shows that the size of copper particles, which are formed through reduction reaction, increases with decreasing pH value and increasing reaction time. As ultrafiltration is capable of removing these nano-sized particles, integration of chemical reduction and PEUF is proposed to simultaneously achieve regeneration of polyelectrolyte and recovery of copper in one process. Results show that the proposed process could achieve almost complete copper removal without being affected by reaction pH.

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