Determination of fouling mechanisms and accurate quantitative prediction of nano-porous membrane behavior are of great interest in membrane processes. This work has focused on a comprehensive comparison of two classical and new fouling models. Different operational conditions were tested to analyze the level of agreement of these models with experimental observation. Whey solutions of 8, 0.8 and 0.5 g/L were ultrafiltered in transmembrane pressures (TMPs) of 300 and 500 KPa through a synthesized polyethersulfone/copolymer blend membrane. Fouling mechanisms and the effect of different combinations of TMPs and protein concentrations were determined and analyzed by fitting the experimental data to different models. Based on the results obtained from classical models, it was found that the predictions of the cake layer formation model were quite acceptable, followed by the intermediate blocking model. The new combined pore blockage-cake filtration model, however, was found to be very successful in predicting the flux decline over time for every operational condition tested, with all relative errors of prediction less than 5%. The latter also showed a good performance in the transition from the pore blockage mechanism to cake layer formation.

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