Probing the fouling process and mechanisms of submerged ceramic membrane ultrafiltration during algal harvesting under sub- and super-critical fluxes

Xiaotian Wu, Canwei Zhou, Keyuan Li, Wen Zhang, Yi Tao

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

16 Scopus citations

Abstract

Membrane filtration is a promising approach for harvesting microalgae for production of biofuel and high-value products. Membrane fouling is the most limiting factor for filtration operation as it causes low flow flux, high transmembrane pressure and high maintenance cost associated with membrane backwash and replacement. In the present study, the harvesting efficiency and the membrane fouling properties of a bench-scale ultrafiltration system with a submerged flat-sheet ceramic membrane were investigated for harvesting green microalgae, Chlorella vulgaris, under sub- and super-critical flux. The fouling mechanism (cake layer, gel layer and membrane pore blocking) was systematically analyzed to illustrate the possible fouling profiles at sub and super-critical flux. The results showed that the productivity for harvesting microalgal cells under super-critical flux condition was three times higher than sub-critical flux condition, with the fouling rates 8 times higher as well. The increase in irreversible membrane fouling was attributed as the main cause of the membrane resistance increase at the super-critical flux condition although the resistance of cake layer was the highest for both conditions. SMPs, aromatic protein and humic-like organics of microalgae broth contribute to the irreversible membrane fouling.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)199-207
Number of pages9
JournalSeparation and Purification Technology
Volume195
DOIs
StatePublished - Apr 29 2018

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Analytical Chemistry
  • Filtration and Separation

Keywords

  • Ceramic membrane
  • Chlorella vulgaris
  • Membrane fouling
  • Microalgae harvesting
  • Operation flux

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