Cleaning strategies for flux recovery of an ultrafiltration membrane fouled by natural organic matter

Hongjoo Lee, Gary Amy, Jaeweon Cho, Yeomin Yoon, Seung Hyeon Moon, In S. Kim

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196 Scopus citations


One of the most common problems encountered in water treatment applications of membranes is fouling. Natural organic matter (NOM) represents a particularly problematic foulant. Membranes may be fouled by relatively hydrophilic and/or hydrophobic NOM components, depending on NOM characteristics, membrane properties, and operating conditions. To maximize flux recovery for an NOM-fouled ultrafiltration membrane (NTR 7410), chemical cleaning and hydraulic rinsing with a relatively high cross-flow velocity were investigated as cleaning strategies. The modification of the membrane surface with either an anionic or a cationic surfactant was also evaluated to minimize membrane fouling and to enhance NOM rejection. Foulants from a hydrophobic NOM source (Orange County ground water (OC-GW)) were cleaned more effectively in terms of permeate flux by acid and caustic cleanings than foulants from a relatively hydrophilic NOM source (Horsetooth surface water (HT-SW)). An anionic surfactant (sodium dodecyl sulfate (SDS)) was not effective as a cleaning agent for foulants from either hydrophobic or hydrophilic NOM sources. High ionic strength cleaning with 0.1 M NaCl was comparatively effective in providing flux recovery for NOM-fouled membranes compared to other chemical cleaning agents. Increased cross-flow velocity and longer cleaning time influenced the efficiency of caustic cleaning, but not high ionic strength cleaning. The membrane was successfully modified only with the cationic surfactant; however, enhanced NOM rejection was accompanied by a significant flux reduction.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)3301-3308
Number of pages8
JournalWater Research
Issue number14
StatePublished - 2001

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This research was performed mainly with the support of the AWWA Research Foundation (Project Manager: Traci Case). This work was also supported in part by the Korea Science and Engineering Foundation (KOSEF) through the Advanced Environmental Monitoring Research Center at Kwangju Institute of Science and Technology.


  • Cleaning agents
  • Cleaning strategies
  • NOM-fouled UF membrane
  • The membrane surface modification


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