A crossflow filtration system for constant permeate flux membrane fouling characterization

Miller, Daniel J.; Paul, Donald R.; Freeman, Benny D.
March 2013
Review of Scientific Instruments;Mar2013, Vol. 84 Issue 3, p035003
Academic Journal
Membrane fouling is often characterized using a crossflow filtration apparatus. Typically, the transmembrane pressure (TMP) difference is fixed, and the flux is allowed to decline as the membrane fouls and the resistance to mass transfer increases. However, as flux varies, so too does the rate at which foulants are brought to the membrane surface, so the observed fouling behavior is not solely the result of membrane/foulant interactions. Constant flux experiments, where the permeate flux is fixed and the TMP difference varies, minimize such variations in the hydrodynamic conditions at the membrane surface, but constant TMP difference experiments dominate the fouling literature because they are more straightforward to execute than constant flux experiments. Additionally, most industrial water purification membrane installations operate at constant flux rather than at constant TMP. Here, we describe the construction and operation of a constant flux crossflow fouling apparatus. System measurement accuracy was validated by comparison of pure water permeance measurements to values specified by the membrane manufacturer, reported elsewhere, and measured by another technique. Fouling experiments were performed with two membrane/foulant systems: polysulfone ultrafiltration membranes with a soybean oil emulsion foulant and PVDF microfiltration membranes with a polystyrene latex bead suspension foulant. Automatic permeate flux control facilitated flux stepping experiments, which are commonly used to determine the threshold flux or critical flux of a membrane/foulant pair. Comparison of a flux stepping experiment with a literature report yielded good agreement.


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