The hybrid membrane bioreactor - nanofiltration treatment process can be an effective approach for treating the landfill leachate, but the residual leachate concentrate highly loaded with the humic substance and salts remains an environmental concern. Herein, a loose nanofiltration membrane (molecular weight cut-off of 860 Da) was used to recover the humic substance, which can act as a key component of organic fertilizer, from the leachate concentrate. The loose nanofiltration membrane showed the high permeation fluxes and high transmissions (>94.7%) for most inorganic ions (i.e., Na+, K+, Cl−, and NO3−), while retaining 95.7 ± 0.3% of the humic substance, demonstrating its great potential in effective fractionation of humic substance from inorganic salts in the leachate concentrate. The operation conditions, i.e., cross-flow rates and temperatures, had more pronounced impacts on the filtration performance of the loose nanofiltration membrane. Increasing cross-flow rates from 60 to 260 L h−1 resulted in an improvement of ca. 7.3% in the humic substance rejection, mainly due to the reduced concentration polarization effect. In contrast, the solute rejection of the nanofiltration membrane was negatively dependent on the temperature. The rejection of humic substance decreased from 96.3 ± 0.3% to 92.0 ± 0.4% with increasing the temperature from 23 to 35 °C, likely due to the enlargement of the membrane pore size and enhancement in solute diffusivity. The humic substance was enriched from 1735 to 15,287 mg L−1, yielding a 91.2% recovery ratio with 85.7% desalination efficiency at a concentration factor of 9.6. The recovered HS had significantly stimulated the seed germination and growth of the green mungbean plants with no obvious phytotoxicity. These results demonstrate that loose nanofiltration can be an effective promising technology to recover the humic substance as a valuable fertilizer component towards sustainable management of the landfill leachate concentrate.
- Landfill leachate concentrate
- Loose nanofiltration membrane
- Humic substance recovery
- Sustainable management