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Open Access Publications from the University of California

The effect of permeate flux on membrane fouling during microfiltration of oily water

  • Author(s): He, Z;
  • Miller, DJ;
  • Kasemset, S;
  • Paul, DR;
  • Freeman, BD
  • et al.

Critical and threshold flux concepts were recently developed to distinguish no fouling, slow fouling and rapid fouling regimes. Membrane fouling behavior is expected to vary with respect to the imposed flux relative to the critical and threshold flux values. However, crossflow fouling tests are often performed independent of critical and threshold flux determinations. In this study, constant flux fouling experiments were performed in connection with critical and threshold flux determination. Fouling behavior was examined in the context of critical and threshold flux. A poly(vinylidene fluoride) microfiltration membrane was challenged with various oil-in-water emulsions. The critical and threshold flux values were estimated using the flux-stepping technique. Constant flux crossflow fouling tests were performed at selected fluxes below and above the critical and threshold fluxes. Below the critical flux, mass transfer resistance remained constant at the clean membrane value. Above the critical flux but below the threshold flux, mass transfer resistance approached a steady state resistance, RB, which was determined from the linear regression of flux-stepping experiments. Above the threshold flux, a three-stage transmembrane pressure (TMP) was observed, consisting of: (1) an initial gradual increase, (2) a TMP jump stage, and (3) a pseudo-steady state. The pseudo-steady state TMP corresponded to the estimated critical pressure of the oil layer.

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