Fouling by natural organic matter, such as humic substances, is a major factor limiting the use of microfiltration for water purification. The objective of this study was to develop a fundamental understanding of the underlying mechanisms governing humic acid fouling during microfiltration using a combined pore blockage-cake filtration model. Data were obtained over a range of humic acid concentrations, transmembrane pressures, and stirring speeds. The initial flux decline was due to pore blockage caused by the deposition of large humic acid aggregates on the membrane surface, with a humic acid deposit developing over those regions of the membrane that have first been blocked by an aggregate. The rate of cake growth approaches zero at a finite filtrate flux, similar to the critical flux concept developed for colloidal filtration. The data were in good agreement with model calculations, with the parameter values providing important insights into the mechanisms governing humic acid fouling during microfiltration. In addition, the basic approach provides a framework that can be used to analyze humic acid fouling under different conditions.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Materials Science(all)
- Physical and Theoretical Chemistry
- Filtration and Separation