Membrane Technology

Investigations into the use of nanofiltration processes in drinking water treatment for the removal of nickel from groundwater

Using conventional proprietary nanofiltration membranes, the effective separation of nickel from polluted groundwater has been demonstrated. Over 90% retention has been achieved, which is easily sufficient to meet the requirements laid down by the European Drinking Water Directive. 



Nickel concentrations in groundwater are generally low, and will typically lie below 0.01 mg/l.  However, higher concentrations may arise in specific cases as a result of natural soil conditions and the influx of pollutants from agriculture, road traffic and industry.

Since nickel is a known allergen, drinking water is subject to stringent limiting values for nickel content.  However, the suitability of conventional treatment processes for the removal of nickel is limited, and these processes are also associated with relatively high investment and operating costs.

This project was intended to establish whether nanofiltration would provide an efficient, cost-effective and environmentally sound option for the removal of nickel from groundwater.  To this end, membranes from various manufacturers have been tested for the retention of nickel and manganese, both in the laboratory and on a semi-industrial scale in a groundwater works.


  • Very good filtration results have been obtained in all tests conducted.
  • Of the constituent materials investigated, the best retention results have been achieved for nickel, with values ranging from 92 to 95%.  Values ranging from 81 to 92% have been achieved for manganese.
  • It has also been shown that the results of these laboratory trials provide a highly suitable basis for the planning of semi-industrial tests, given the high level of concordance in results obtained.

More Project Informations

Project title:  Investigations into the use of nanofiltration processes in drinking water treatment for the removal of nickel from groundwater

Project number:  02WT9821/1

Project period:  1998 - 2000

Project region:  Germany (Baden-Württemberg)

Project contact:

Herr Prof. Dr.-Ing. Rott

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++ 49/711/685-3711

++ 49/711/685-3729

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Source: German National Library of Science and Technology Hannover (TIB)