A cleaning protocol that effectively removes fouling from hollow fiber UF systems without excessive use of chemicals, product water or (long) down time is needed. Cross flushing with UF feed water has been reported to increase the net flux of hollow fiber systems by reducing the frequency of backwashing, the consumption of permeate and the system down time. In this study, the flux restoration achieved in a vertical and horizontal UF system employing an intermittent water and water/air cross flush were compared. The flux restoration in the vertical UF system was not improved by the addition of air to the water flush and a maximum flux restoration of 82% was achieved, irrespective of the presence of air. Similarly, in a horizontal ultrafiltration system, a maximum flux restoration of 82% was also achieved with a water flush (v = 1.63 m/s). However, the addition of air to the water flush decreased the flux restoration to 40% at the highest water/air ratio (33% air). Low flux restoration in the horizontal system was attributed to residual air in the module after cross flushing. Flushing with water alone (v = 1.63 m/s) yielded a wall shear stress of 16 Pa compared with 130 Pa and 279 Pa in the liquid film surrounding the air slugs in the horizontal and vertical UF system, respectively, with a water/air ratio of 2:1. Despite the high shear force on the cake layer accumulated when air was added to the system, the maximum flux restoration was 82% both with and without air. This was attributed to the fact that it was the filtration mechanism and not the shear force on the cake layer that limited flux restoration during cross flushing. To improve the flux restoration that can be achieved by the cross flushing process, the filtration mechanism must be manipulated to minimize blocking filtration and induce cake filtration from the beginning of each filtration cycle.

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