Impacts of feed spacer design on UF membrane cleaning efficiency

Nurshaun Sreedhar, Navya Thomas, Oraib Al-Ketan, Reza Rowshan, Rashid K. Abu Al-Rub, Seungkwan Hong, Hassan A. Arafat

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

14 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

In this study, the impacts of three feed spacer design parameters; thickness, porosity and architecture, on the cleaning efficiency of ultrafiltration (UF) membranes were studied, both in backwash and relaxation cleaning modes, using sodium alginate solution dosed with CaCl2 as the process feed. Both commercial, net-type spacers and 3D-printed spacers based on triply periodic minimal surfaces (TPMS) architectures were utilized in the study. Increased spacer thickness and porosity were found to increase the cleaning resistance of the membrane, while TPMS spacers were found to yield a lower cleaning resistance than net-type spacers, even with the latter being thicker. The root causes of these observations were analyzed based on resistance analysis of the fouling layer on the membranes. To do that, overall, residual, reversible and irreversible fouling resistances were quantified at the end of a 20-cleaning cycle test. Statistical correlations were then established between these resistances and spacer properties. The results showed that the consequential impacts of spacer design on the shear stresses, created by the feed flow on the fouling layer, underscore the observed fouling mechanism and the consequent cleaning efficiency. The spacer design can impact these shear stresses through its hydraulic diameter and spacer-membrane contact area. When the spacer design leads to lower shear stresses, a cake filtration mechanism prevails, a more irreversible fouling occurs and more challenging cleaning becomes. A recently published work on combined intermediate pore blockage and cake filtration model for fouling was used to construe these observations.

Original languageEnglish
Article number118571
JournalJournal of Membrane Science
Volume616
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2020 Dec 15

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This work was funded by Korea Environment Industry & Technology Institute (KEITI) through Industrial Facilities & Infrastructure Research Program, supported by Korea Ministry of Environment (MOE) (Grant No. 1485016424). This project was also funded by the Center for Membrane and Advanced Water Technology (CMAT) at Khalifa University, under Award No. RC2-2018-009. TPMS spacers were printed using Core Technology Platform resources at NYU Abu Dhabi. We thank Jumaanah Elhashemi from NYU Abu Dhabi for assistance with 3D printing.

Funding Information:
This work was funded by Korea Environment Industry & Technology Institute (KEITI) through Industrial Facilities & Infrastructure Research Program, supported by Korea Ministry of Environment (MOE) (Grant No. 1485016424 ). This project was also funded by the Center for Membrane and Advanced Water Technology (CMAT) at Khalifa University , under Award No. RC2-2018-009 . TPMS spacers were printed using Core Technology Platform resources at NYU Abu Dhabi. We thank Jumaanah Elhashemi from NYU Abu Dhabi for assistance with 3D printing.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2020 Elsevier B.V.

Keywords

  • Backwash
  • Feed spacers
  • Membrane cleaning
  • Triply periodic minimal surfaces
  • Ultrafiltration

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry
  • General Materials Science
  • Physical and Theoretical Chemistry
  • Filtration and Separation

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