metadata only access
Colloidal particles in the feed streams of membrane filtration processes control membrane fouling rate in many instances. In this study, the non-gelling colloidal Na-alginate and the gelling colloidal Ca-alginate are employed to investigate the significance of gel layer formation in membrane filtration processes in terms of contribution to membrane fouling and supplementary impurity removal. The results show that contribution of colloidal particles to membrane fouling depends on the gelling propensity of the colloids and the operational mode (constant pressure or constant flux) implemented. A small dose of either Na-alginate or Ca-alginate was found to greatly increase membrane fouling rate during constant pressure filtration. Both the resistance to removal by application of shear and the lower susceptibility of the concentration polarization layer to shear resulted in more severe fouling during constant flux filtration in the presence of Ca-alginate assemblages than in the presence of Na-alginate. Apparent channel sizes of the Ca-alginate gel layer were calculated from the material properties of the fouling layer. Incomplete catalase retention highlighted the likely heterogeneity in size of liquid transport pathways. Adsorption also contributed to the trapping of colloidal particles according to the retention behaviour of BSA by the Ca-alginate gel layer. Gel layer formation propensity should be seriously considered for the operation of membrane filtration processes. Two simple methods based on (i) a permeability recovery experiment and (ii) comparison of dead-end filtration behaviour with and without shear application are proposed for evaluation of the gelling propensity of colloidal dispersions. © 2008 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.