Optimal cleaning strategy to alleviate fouling in membrane distillation process to treat anaerobic digestate

Amine Charfi, Sewoon Kim, Yeomin Yoon, Jinwoo Cho

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

27 Scopus citations


This paper deals with the membrane fouling issue in the Direct Contact Membrane Distillation (DCMD) process treating a wasted sludge from an anaerobic digestion process. The main objective is to define an optimal cleaning strategy to alleviate fouling. Using a lab scale DCMD process, a cleaning strategy based on DI water flushing followed by 0.2% sodium hypochlorite (NaOCl) and 3% citric acid (C6H8O7) cleaning was tested with different cleaning frequencies and various chemical cleaning durations at different cross-flow velocities. To avoid severe fouling, the optimal cross-flow velocity was found at 0.18 m/s (0.8 L/min). Moreover, even if higher cross-flow velocity allows higher flux, it could increase fouling risks. For a better membrane regeneration and process productivity, a cleaning of 60 min duration for each chemical cleaning applied every two days was defined as the optimal cleaning strategy. Such conditions allowed the preservation of 75.5% of the initial flux after 96 h of operation. Furthermore, the effect on membrane flux regeneration of DI water flushing, sodium hypochlorite, and citric acid cleaning registered were, 31.52%, 11.95% and 20.65%, respectively. This study revealed that in the MD process treating real wastewater both external and internal fouling are responsible of permeate flux decline due to the accumulation of organic and inorganic matter on the membrane surface as well as within the pores.

Original languageEnglish
Article number130524
StatePublished - Sep 2021

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Publisher Copyright:
© 2021 Elsevier Ltd


  • Cleaning strategy
  • Membrane distillation
  • Membrane fouling
  • Wastewater treatment


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