Send to

Choose Destination
Environ Sci Technol. 2003 Apr 15;37(8):1676-83.

Modes of natural organic matter fouling during ultrafiltration.

Author information

Howard P. Isermann Department of Chemical Engineering, Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, 110 8th Street, Troy, New York 12180-3190, USA.


The fouling of ultrafiltration membranes by natural organic matter (NOM), isolated from a potable surface water source, was studied with an emphasis on elucidating fouling modes and the role of aggregates. NOM size was related to membrane pore sizes using parallel membrane fractionation and size exclusion chromatography, such analyses confirmed the predominance of low MW species and identified the presence of aggregates in concentrated NOM solutions. Cake formation was the dominant mode of fouling by the unfiltered feed, which contained aggregates. This was identified by a constant rate of increase in membrane resistance with permeate throughput and was independent of pore size over a 10-1000 kDa molecular weight cutoff (MWCO) range. Prefiltration (to remove aggregates) and dilution (to reduce aggregate concentration) reduced the rate of increase in membrane resistance for the low MWCO membranes but did not change the fouling mode. In contrast, such pretreatment prevented cake formation on the larger MWCO membranes and shifted the mode of fouling to pore blockage. The date lend support for the idea that an initial fouling layer of large aggregates can catalyze the fouling by lower MW species. The fouling layer could be removed from the large MWCO membranes by backwashing, but the lower MWCO membranes exhibited some irreversible fouling, suggesting that low MW species penetrated into the pore structure. A combined pore blockage-cake formation model described the data well and provided insight into how fouling modes evolve during filtration.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

Supplemental Content

Loading ...
Support Center