Membrane processes for removal of pharmaceutically active compounds (PhACs) from water and wastewaters

Mehrdad Taheran, Satinder K. Brar, M. Verma, R. Y. Surampalli, T. C. Zhang, J. R. Valero

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

289 Scopus citations


Pharmaceutically active compounds (PhACs), which find their way easily into the water sources, are emerging as a major concern for drinking water quality and aquatic species. Therefore, their removal from water sources is a priority from environmental point of view. During the past decade, different methods including membrane separation, adsorption systems and chemical transformation have been evaluated for removal of these compounds. This paper reviews different aspects of PhAC removal by using membrane separation processes, as they have been conventionally known to show high potential in the production of superior quality drinking and industrial water. In brief, osmosis membranes can efficiently remove almost all PhACs though its operational cost is relatively high and nanofiltration (NF) membranes are highly influenced by electrostatic and hydrophobic interaction. Moreover, the efficiency of membrane bioreactors (MBRs) is difficult to predict due to the complex interaction of compounds with microorganisms. To improve the performance and robustness of membrane technology, it is suggested to combine membranes with other systems, such as activated carbon and enzymatic degradation.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)60-77
Number of pages18
JournalScience of the Total Environment
StatePublished - Mar 15 2016


  • Membrane bioreactor
  • Membrane separation
  • Nanofiltration
  • Pharmaceutically active compounds (PhACs)
  • Reverse osmosis

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Environmental Engineering
  • Environmental Chemistry
  • Waste Management and Disposal
  • Pollution


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