The biggest impediment for applying membrane processes is fouling that comes from mass flux (such as particle and organic matter) to the membrane surface and its pores. Numerous research articles have indicated that either particles or natural organic matter (NOM) has been the most detrimental foulant. Therefore, the role of particles in membrane fouling was investigated with two synthetic waters (having either particles alone or particles with simple organic matter) and a natural water. Membrane fouling was evaluated with flux decline behavior and direct images from scanning electron microscopy. The results showed that the combined fouling by kaolin and dextran (a simple organic compound selected as a surrogate for NOM) showed no difference from the fouling with only the organic matter. The similarity might stem from the fact that dextran (i.e., polysaccharide) has no ability to be adsorbed on the clay material, so that the polysaccharide behaves the same with respect to the membrane with or without clay material being present. In contrast to kaolin, the natural particles showed a dramatic effect on membrane fouling.
Investigation of membrane fouling by synthetic and natural particles
J.H. Kweon, D.F. Lawler; Investigation of membrane fouling by synthetic and natural particles. Water Sci Technol 1 December 2004; 50 (12): 279–285. doi: https://doi.org/10.2166/wst.2004.0724
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