Flow and fouling in a pleated membrane filter

P. Sanaei, G. W. Richardson, T. Witelski, L. J. Cummings

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

24 Scopus citations


Pleated membrane filters are widely used in many applications, and offer significantly better surface area to volume ratios than equal-area unpleated membrane filters. However, their filtration characteristics are markedly inferior to those of equivalent unpleated membrane filters in dead-end filtration. While several hypotheses have been advanced for this, one possibility is that the flow field induced by the pleating leads to spatially non-uniform fouling of the filter, which in turn degrades performance. In this paper we investigate this hypothesis by developing a simplified model for the flow and fouling within a pleated membrane filter. Our model accounts for the pleated membrane geometry (which affects the flow), for porous support layers surrounding the membrane, and for two membrane fouling mechanisms: (i) adsorption of very small particles within membrane pores; and (ii) blocking of entire pores by large particles. We use asymptotic techniques based on the small pleat aspect ratio to solve the model, and we compare solutions to those for the closest-equivalent unpleated filter.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)36-59
Number of pages24
JournalJournal of Fluid Mechanics
StatePublished - May 25 2016

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Condensed Matter Physics
  • Mechanics of Materials
  • Mechanical Engineering


  • low-Reynolds-number flows
  • porous media
  • suspensions


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