This paper presents a concept for relating complex solute mixture characteristics to membrane fouling using field flow fractionation. Field flow fractionation has traditionally been used in separation science as a tool for characterizing aquatic system components in terms of size based on Stokes-Einstein theory. This work begins to assess the possibility of using flow field flow fractionation (FlFFF) as a tool for ‘fingerprinting’ complex solute mixtures and obtaining effective mixture properties, such as effective size, effective diffusion coefficient, and interaction potential between solutes and ultrafiltration membrane materials. The effect of applied field and changes in solute ionic strength are demonstrated for polystyrene sulfonate latex colloids. Quantitative analysis is also considered for the residence time distribution (commonly referred to as a fractogram) of solutes from FlFFF measurements. The results here suggest that FlFFF may effectively fingerprint a complex solute mixture based on solute characteristics and membrane solute interactions.

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