Heavy metal ions can be selectively transported under the concentration gradient across a cation-exchange membrane with a chelating agent in the receiving phase. The selectivity depends on the complex formation constants of the ions with the agent. Metal ions are adsorbed into a cation-exchange membrane via the ion-exchange reaction and diffuse across the membrane. The desorption process is facilitated by the complexation in the receiving phase, which causes a large transport rate across the membrane. A transport equation was established and the theoretical values estimated by the equation and the permeation characteristics values obtained experimentally agreed well with the measured ion flux. The selectivity of the metal ions in the mixed solution is increased in the adequate concentration of the chelating agent in the receiving phase, when the chelate formation reaction may occur competitively between the ions with the agent in the receiving phase. The metal ions in the complex solution can be stripped as free ions across a cation-exchange membrane via the ion-exchange reaction with protons under a concentration gradient of acid.
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