Membrane Fouling in Water/Wastewater Treatment: Characterization, Modeling and Control

A special issue of Membranes (ISSN 2077-0375). This special issue belongs to the section "Membrane Processing and Engineering".

Deadline for manuscript submissions: closed (31 January 2023) | Viewed by 13999

Special Issue Editors

College of Resources and Environment, University of Chinese Academy of Sciences (UCAS), 19A Yuquan Road, Beijing 100049, China
Interests: membrane separation technology; membrane fouling mechanism and control; wastewater treatment and reclamation; environmental analytical methods; statistical analysis
Special Issues, Collections and Topics in MDPI journals
School of Civil Engineering, Guangzhou University, Guangzhou 510006, China
Interests: anaerobic/aerobic membrane bioreactor; membrane aerated biofilm reactor; pressure-driven membrane process (e.g., microfiltration, ultrafiltration, nanofiltration, reverse osmosis); membrane fouling; process optimization, wastewater treatment and reuse
Special Issues, Collections and Topics in MDPI journals
College of Resources and Environment, Southwest University, Chongqing 400715, China
Interests: membrane bioreactor; membrane fouling mechanism and control; biological wastewater treatment; nitrogen and phosphorus removal; anaerobic process; ANAMMOX

Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

Membrane technology plays a vital role in water and wastewater treatment. A variety of membrane processes have sprung up, including low-pressure (e.g., microfiltration and ultrafiltration), high-pressure (e.g., nanofiltration and reverse osmosis), electrically driven (e.g., electrodialysis), osmotically driven (e.g., forward osmosis) and temperature-driven (e.g., membrane distillation) processes. However, their development is seriously challenged by the membrane fouling problem, which impedes the separation and makes the process energy-intensive. Foulants with various compositions can interact with the membrane material, block the pores or cover the surface. The fouling phenomena might be described under universal laws, or be specific to the detailed membrane/foulant materials or membrane processes. It is of great importance to scientifically describe, understand, predict and control fouling for the future development and application of membrane processes in the field of water/wastewater treatment.

This Special Issue aims to cover recent developments and advances in all aspects of membrane fouling in water/wastewater treatment, including, but not limited to:

  1. Characterization: Observing and understanding the fouling phenomena, processes and factors using advanced physical, chemical, biological, spectroscopic and statistical analyses, and developing new methods for fouling analysis and evaluation;
  2. Modeling: Describing and predicting the fouling effects, interactions and tendencies using analytical/numerical models (including theoretical and empirical models), computational fluid dynamics, computational chemistry tools (e.g., molecular dynamics and molecular/quantum mechanics) and statistical tools (e.g., neutral networks and machine learning);
  3. Control: Novel approaches and their applications to fouling control including advances in membrane materials/modules/processes, foulant pretreatment/conditioning/cleaning and process optimization toward energy-efficient fouling mitigation.

Authors are invited to submit their latest results; both original papers and reviews are welcome.

Dr. Kang Xiao
Dr. Chun-Hai Wei
Dr. Zhongbo Zhou
Guest Editors

Manuscript Submission Information

Manuscripts should be submitted online at www.mdpi.com by registering and logging in to this website. Once you are registered, click here to go to the submission form. Manuscripts can be submitted until the deadline. All submissions that pass pre-check are peer-reviewed. Accepted papers will be published continuously in the journal (as soon as accepted) and will be listed together on the special issue website. Research articles, review articles as well as short communications are invited. For planned papers, a title and short abstract (about 100 words) can be sent to the Editorial Office for announcement on this website.

Submitted manuscripts should not have been published previously, nor be under consideration for publication elsewhere (except conference proceedings papers). All manuscripts are thoroughly refereed through a single-blind peer-review process. A guide for authors and other relevant information for submission of manuscripts is available on the Instructions for Authors page. Membranes is an international peer-reviewed open access monthly journal published by MDPI.

Please visit the Instructions for Authors page before submitting a manuscript. The Article Processing Charge (APC) for publication in this open access journal is 2700 CHF (Swiss Francs). Submitted papers should be well formatted and use good English. Authors may use MDPI's English editing service prior to publication or during author revisions.

Keywords

  • membrane fouling
  • water and wastewater treatment
  • characterization
  • mechanism
  • interaction
  • analytical method
  • mathematical modeling
  • new material
  • fouling mitigation
  • process optimization

Published Papers (8 papers)

Order results
Result details
Select all
Export citation of selected articles as:

Research

Jump to: Review

22 pages, 8874 KiB  
Article
The Application of Polyethersulfone Ultrafiltration Membranes for Separation of Car Wash Wastewaters: Experiments and Modelling
Membranes 2023, 13(3), 321; https://doi.org/10.3390/membranes13030321 - 10 Mar 2023
Cited by 6 | Viewed by 1451
Abstract
The wastewater generated as a result of car washes is considered a new source of water. However, recovered water must meet the required quality criteria for reuse. For this purpose, the ultrafiltration (UF) process can be successfully used. The main aim of the [...] Read more.
The wastewater generated as a result of car washes is considered a new source of water. However, recovered water must meet the required quality criteria for reuse. For this purpose, the ultrafiltration (UF) process can be successfully used. The main aim of the present work was to investigate the influence of the membrane’s molecular weight cut-off (MWCO) on the UF performance in terms of the fouling phenomenon and retention degree of car wash wastewater. Moreover, for a better understanding of the fouling mechanisms, Hermia’s model was used. The experimental studies were conducted with the use of two polyethersulfone (PES) membranes (MWCO of 10 kDa and 100 kDa). It has been noted that the used membranes provided a high-quality permeate and excellent turbidity removal, up to 99%. Moreover, it has been noted that the MWCO membrane has a significant impact on the fouling mechanism. Generally, a much greater intensity of fouling for the membrane with MWCO of 100 kDa was observed. Results obtained in the present study showed that both real wastewaters and the clean solutions used for washing cars cause the fouling phenomenon. It has been proven that rinsing the membranes with water is not sufficient to recover the initial membrane’s performance. Hence, periodic chemical cleaning of the membranes was required. Fitting the experimental data to Hermia’s model allowed us to indicate that membranes with MWCO of 100 kDa are more prone to intermediate blocking. To sum up, the findings suggest that for the UF of the car wash wastewater, the use of membranes with MWCO equal to 10 kDa is recommended. Full article
Show Figures

Figure 1

14 pages, 2821 KiB  
Article
Biochar Addition in Membrane Bioreactor Enables Membrane Fouling Alleviation and Nitrogen Removal Improvement for Low C/N Municipal Wastewater Treatment
Membranes 2023, 13(2), 194; https://doi.org/10.3390/membranes13020194 - 04 Feb 2023
Cited by 2 | Viewed by 1507
Abstract
Membrane bioreactors (MBRs) are frequently used to treat municipal wastewater, but membrane fouling is still the main weakness of this technology. Additionally, the low carbon-nitrogen (C/N) ratio influent has been shown to not only increase the membrane fouling, but also introduce challenges to [...] Read more.
Membrane bioreactors (MBRs) are frequently used to treat municipal wastewater, but membrane fouling is still the main weakness of this technology. Additionally, the low carbon-nitrogen (C/N) ratio influent has been shown to not only increase the membrane fouling, but also introduce challenges to meet the effluent discharge standard for nitrogen removal. Herein, the authors addressed the challenges by adding cost-effective biochar. The results suggested that the biochar addition can enable membrane fouling alleviation and nitrogen removal improvement. The reduced membrane fouling can be ascribed to the biochar adsorption capacity, which facilitates to form bigger flocs with carbon skeleton in biochar as a core. As a result, the biochar addition significantly altered the mixed liquor suspension with soluble microbial product (SMP) concentration reduction of approximately 14%, lower SMP protein/polysaccharide ratio from 0.28 ± 0.02 to 0.22 ± 0.03, smaller SMP molecular weight and bigger sludge particle size from 67.68 ± 6.9 μm to 113.47 ± 4.8 μm. The nitrogen removal is also dramatically improved after biochar addition, which can be due to the initial carbon source release from biochar, and formation of aerobic–anaerobic microstructures. Microbial diversity analysis results suggested more accumulation of denitrification microbes including norank_f__JG30-KF-CM45 and Plasticicumulans. Less relative abundance of Aeromonas after biochar addition suggested less extracellular polymer substance (EPS) secretion and lower membrane fouling rate. Full article
Show Figures

Graphical abstract

16 pages, 4894 KiB  
Article
Clarification of Limed Sugarcane Juice by Stainless Steel Membranes and Membrane Fouling Analysis
Membranes 2022, 12(10), 910; https://doi.org/10.3390/membranes12100910 - 20 Sep 2022
Cited by 3 | Viewed by 1661
Abstract
The performance of stainless steel membranes with pore sizes of 100 and 20 nm in clarifying limed sugarcane juice was investigated under different operating conditions. An increase in transmembrane pressure (TMP) for the 20 nm membrane from 2 to 5 bar led to [...] Read more.
The performance of stainless steel membranes with pore sizes of 100 and 20 nm in clarifying limed sugarcane juice was investigated under different operating conditions. An increase in transmembrane pressure (TMP) for the 20 nm membrane from 2 to 5 bar led to an increase in the average flux from 146.6 Lm−2 h−1 to 187.8 Lm−2 h−1 (approximately 9 h). The increase in crossflow velocity from 2 to 5 m/s led to an increase in the average flux from 111.9 Lm−2 h−1 to 158.1 Lm−2 h−1. The increase in temperature from 70 °C to 90 °C caused an increase in the average flux from 132.8 Lm−2 h−1 to 148.6 Lm−2 h−1. Simultaneously, the test produced a high-quality filtered juice with an average of 1.26 units of purity rise. The purity increased with time, and a 99.99% reduction in turbidity and an average 29.3% reduction in colour were observed. In addition, four classic filtration mathematical models and scanning electron microscopy (SEM) analyses suggested that cake formation is the main mechanism for flux decline. Fourier transform infrared (FTIR) spectrometry and energy-dispersive X-ray (EDX) spectrometry indicated that organic fouling is the main foulant. This study demonstrates the potential of stainless steel membranes as filters for the clarification of raw sugarcane juice. Full article
Show Figures

Figure 1

17 pages, 5131 KiB  
Article
Cake Layer Fouling Potential Characterization for Wastewater Reverse Osmosis via Gradient Filtration
Membranes 2022, 12(8), 810; https://doi.org/10.3390/membranes12080810 - 21 Aug 2022
Cited by 2 | Viewed by 1258
Abstract
It is of great importance to quantitatively characterize feed fouling potential for the effective and efficient prevention and control of reverse osmosis membrane fouling. A gradient filtration method with microfiltration (MF 0.45 μm) → ultrafiltration (UF 100 kDa) → nanofiltration (NF 300 Da) [...] Read more.
It is of great importance to quantitatively characterize feed fouling potential for the effective and efficient prevention and control of reverse osmosis membrane fouling. A gradient filtration method with microfiltration (MF 0.45 μm) → ultrafiltration (UF 100 kDa) → nanofiltration (NF 300 Da) was proposed to extract the cake layer fouling index, I, of different feed foulants in this study. MF, UF, and NF showed high rejection of model suspended solids (kaolin), colloids (sodium alginate and bovine serum albumin), and dissolved organic matters (humic acid) during constant-pressure individual filtration tests, where the cake layer was the dominant fouling mechanism, with I showing a good linear positive correlation with the foulant concentration. MF → UF → NF gradient filtration tests of synthetic wastewater (i.e., model mixture) showed that combined models were more effective than single models to analyze membrane fouling mechanisms. For each membrane of gradient filtration, I showed a positive correlation with the targeted foulant concentration. Therefore, a quantitative assessment method based on MF → UF → NF gradient filtration, the correlation of combined fouling models, and the calculation of I would be useful for characterizing the fouling potentials of different foulants. This method was further successfully applied for characterizing the fouling potential of real wastewater (i.e., sludge supernatant from a membrane bioreactor treating dyeing and finishing wastewater). Full article
Show Figures

Figure 1

17 pages, 3903 KiB  
Article
A Novel Anaerobic Gravity-Driven Dynamic Membrane Bioreactor (AnGDMBR): Performance and Fouling Characterization
Membranes 2022, 12(7), 683; https://doi.org/10.3390/membranes12070683 - 30 Jun 2022
Viewed by 1420
Abstract
Despite numerous studies undertaken to define the development and significance of the dynamic membrane (DM) formed on some coarse materials, the optimization of reactor configuration and the control of the membrane fouling of anaerobic dynamic membrane bioreactor (AnDMBR) need to be further investigated. [...] Read more.
Despite numerous studies undertaken to define the development and significance of the dynamic membrane (DM) formed on some coarse materials, the optimization of reactor configuration and the control of the membrane fouling of anaerobic dynamic membrane bioreactor (AnDMBR) need to be further investigated. The aim of this study was to design a novel anaerobic gravity-driven dynamic membrane bioreactor (AnGDMBR) for the effective and low-cost treatment of municipal wastewater. An 800 mesh nylon net was determined as the optimal support material based on its less irreversible fouling and higher effluent quality by the dead-end filtration experiments. During the continuous operation period of 44 days, the reactor performance, DM filtration behavior and microbial characteristics were studied and compared with the results of recent studies. AnGDMBR had a higher removal rate of chemical oxygen demand (COD) of 85.45 ± 7.06%. Photometric analysis integrating with three-dimensional excitation–emission matrix fluorescence spectra showed that the DM effectively intercepted organics (46.34 ± 16.50%, 75.24 ± 17.35%, and 66.39 ± 17.66% for COD, polysaccharides, and proteins). The addition of suspended carriers effectively removed the DM layer by mechanical scouring, and the growth rate of transmembrane pressure (TMP) and the decreasing rate of flux were reduced from 18.7 to 4.7 Pa/h and 0.07 to 0.01 L/(m2·h2), respectively. However, a dense and thin morphological structure of the DM layer was still observed in the end of reactor operation and plenty of filamentous microorganisms (i.e., SJA-15 and Anaerolineaceae) and the acidogens (i.e., Aeromonadaceae) predominated in the DM layer, which was also embedded in the membrane pore and led to severe irreversible fouling. In summary, the novel AnGDMBR has a superior performance (higher organic removal and lower fouling rates), which provides useful information on the configuration and operation of AnDMBRs for municipal wastewater treatment. Full article
Show Figures

Graphical abstract

11 pages, 2596 KiB  
Article
Antifouling Conductive Composite Membrane with Reversible Wettability for Wastewater Treatment
Membranes 2022, 12(6), 626; https://doi.org/10.3390/membranes12060626 - 16 Jun 2022
Cited by 5 | Viewed by 1827
Abstract
Membrane fouling severely hinders the sustainable development of membrane separation technology. Membrane wetting property is one of the most important factors dominating the development of membrane fouling. Theoretically, a hydrophilic membrane is expected to be more resistant to fouling during filtration, while a [...] Read more.
Membrane fouling severely hinders the sustainable development of membrane separation technology. Membrane wetting property is one of the most important factors dominating the development of membrane fouling. Theoretically, a hydrophilic membrane is expected to be more resistant to fouling during filtration, while a hydrophobic membrane with low surface energy is more advantageous during membrane cleaning. However, conventional membrane materials do not possess the capability to change their wettability on demand. In this study, a stainless steel mesh–sulfosuccinate-doped polypyrrole composite membrane (SSM/PPY(AOT)) was prepared. By applying a negative or positive potential, the surface wettability of the membrane can be switched between hydrophilic and relatively hydrophobic states. Systematic characterizations and a series of filtration experiments were carried out. In the reduction state, the sulfonic acid groups of AOT were more exposed to the membrane surface, rendering the surface more hydrophilic. The fouling filtration experiments verified that the membrane is more resistant to fouling in the hydrophilic state during filtration and easier to clean in the hydrophobic state during membrane cleaning. Furthermore, Ca2+ and Mg2+ could complex with foulants, aggravating membrane fouling. Overall, this study demonstrates the importance of wettability switching in membrane filtration and suggests promising applications of the SSM/PPY(AOT) membrane. Full article
Show Figures

Figure 1

20 pages, 4146 KiB  
Article
Influence of the Sludge Retention Time on Membrane Fouling in an Anaerobic Membrane Bioreactor (AnMBR) Treating Lipid-Rich Dairy Wastewater
Membranes 2022, 12(3), 262; https://doi.org/10.3390/membranes12030262 - 25 Feb 2022
Cited by 7 | Viewed by 1806
Abstract
This study evaluated the effects of sludge retention time (SRT) on the membrane filtration performance of an anaerobic membrane bioreactor (AnMBR) fed lipid-rich synthetic dairy wastewater. The membrane filtration performance was evaluated in two AnMBR systems operated at two different SRTs, i.e., 20 [...] Read more.
This study evaluated the effects of sludge retention time (SRT) on the membrane filtration performance of an anaerobic membrane bioreactor (AnMBR) fed lipid-rich synthetic dairy wastewater. The membrane filtration performance was evaluated in two AnMBR systems operated at two different SRTs, i.e., 20 and 40 days. For the AnMBR operated at 40 days, SRT exhibited worse membrane filtration performance characterized by operational transmembrane pressures (TMP) exceeding the maximum allowed value and high total resistances to filtration (Rtotal). The sludge in the two reactors evaluated at the different SRTs showed similar sludge filterability properties. However, the sludge in the reactor operated at 40 days SRT was characterized by exhibiting the highest concentrations of: (i) total suspended solids (TSS), (ii) small-sized particles, (iii) extracellular polymeric substances (EPS), (iv) soluble microbial products (SMP), (v) fats, oils and grease (FOG), and (vi) long-chain fatty acids (LCFA). The cake layer resistance was the major contributor to the overall resistance to filtration. The high TSS concentration observed in the AnMBR systems apparently contributed to a less permeable cake layer introducing a negative effect on the membrane filtration performance. Full article
Show Figures

Graphical abstract

Review

Jump to: Research

29 pages, 2156 KiB  
Review
A Review on Membrane Fouling Prediction Using Artificial Neural Networks (ANNs)
Membranes 2023, 13(7), 685; https://doi.org/10.3390/membranes13070685 - 24 Jul 2023
Cited by 4 | Viewed by 2210
Abstract
Membrane fouling is a major hurdle to effective pressure-driven membrane processes, such as microfiltration (MF), ultrafiltration (UF), nanofiltration (NF), and reverse osmosis (RO). Fouling refers to the accumulation of particles, organic and inorganic matter, and microbial cells on the membrane’s external and internal [...] Read more.
Membrane fouling is a major hurdle to effective pressure-driven membrane processes, such as microfiltration (MF), ultrafiltration (UF), nanofiltration (NF), and reverse osmosis (RO). Fouling refers to the accumulation of particles, organic and inorganic matter, and microbial cells on the membrane’s external and internal surface, which reduces the permeate flux and increases the needed transmembrane pressure. Various factors affect membrane fouling, including feed water quality, membrane characteristics, operating conditions, and cleaning protocols. Several models have been developed to predict membrane fouling in pressure-driven processes. These models can be divided into traditional empirical, mechanistic, and artificial intelligence (AI)-based models. Artificial neural networks (ANNs) are powerful tools for nonlinear mapping and prediction, and they can capture complex relationships between input and output variables. In membrane fouling prediction, ANNs can be trained using historical data to predict the fouling rate or other fouling-related parameters based on the process parameters. This review addresses the pertinent literature about using ANNs for membrane fouling prediction. Specifically, complementing other existing reviews that focus on mathematical models or broad AI-based simulations, the present review focuses on the use of AI-based fouling prediction models, namely, artificial neural networks (ANNs) and their derivatives, to provide deeper insights into the strengths, weaknesses, potential, and areas of improvement associated with such models for membrane fouling prediction. Full article
Show Figures

Figure 1

Back to TopTop