Poly-thiosemicarbazide Membrane for Gold Adsorption and In-situ Growth of Gold Nanoparticles

  • Luis F. Parra

Student thesis: Master's Thesis


In this work the synergy between a polymer containing chelate sites and gold ions was explored by the fabrication of a polymeric membrane with embedded gold nanoparticles inside its matrix and by developing a process to recover gold from acidic solutions. After realizing that the thiosemicarbazide groups present in the monomeric unit of poly-thiosemicarbazide (PTSC) formed strong complexes with Au ions, membrane technology was used to exploit this property to its maximum. The incorporation of metal nanoparticles into polymeric matrices with current technologies involves either expensive and complicated procedures or leads to poor results in terms of agglomeration, loading, dispersion, stability or efficient use of raw materials. The fabrication procedure described in this thesis solves these problems by fabricating a PTSC membrane containing 33.5 wt% in the form of 2.9 nm gold nanoparticles (AuNPs) by a three step simple and scalable procedure. It showed outstanding results in all of the areas mentioned above and demonstrated catalytic activity for the reduction of 4-Nitrophenol (4−NP) to 4-Aminophenol (4−AP). The current exponential demand of gold for electronics has encouraged the development of efficient processes to recycle it. Several adsorbents used to recover gold from acidic solutions can be found in the literature with outstanding maximum uptakes,yet, poor kinetics leading to an overall inefficient process. The method developed in this dissertation consisted in permeating the gold-containing solution through a PTSC membrane that will capture all the Au ions by forming a metal complex with them. Forcing the ions through the pores of the membrane eliminates the diffusion limitations and the adsorption will only depended on the fast complexation kinetics, resulting in a very efficient process. A flux as high as 1868 L/h m2 was enough to capture >90% of the precious metal present in a solution of 100 ppm Au. The maximum uptake achieved without sacrificing the mechanical stability was 5.4 mmol/g. The selectivity between gold and copper (the most common unwanted metal present along with gold) was 6.7 for 100 ppm initial concentration of both metals and 14.6 for 500 ppm.
Date of AwardDec 2012
Original languageEnglish (US)
Awarding Institution
  • Physical Sciences and Engineering
SupervisorKlaus-Victor Peinemann (Supervisor)


  • polymeric
  • membrane
  • gold nanoparticles
  • adsorption
  • PTSC

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