The potential of standard and modified feed spacers for biofouling control

The impact of feed spacers on initial feed channel pressure (FCP) drop, FCP increase and biomass accumulation has been studied in membrane fouling simulators using feed spacers applied in commercially available nanofiltration and reverse osmosis spiral wound membrane modules. All spacers had a similar geometry.Our studies showed that biofouling was not prevented by (i) variation of spacer thickness, (ii) feed spacer orientation, (iii) feed spacer coating with silver, copper or gold and (iv) using a biostatic feed spacer. At constant feed flow, a lower FCP and FCP increase were observed for a thicker feed spacer. At constant linear flow velocity, roughly the same FCP development and biomass accumulation were found irrespective of the feed spacer thickness: hydrodynamics and substrate load were more important for development and impact of biofouling than the thickness of currently applied spacers. Use of biostatic and metal coated spacers were not effective for biofouling control. The same small reduction of biofouling rate was observed with copper and silver coated spacers as well as uncoated 45° rotated spacers.The studied modified spacers were not effective for biofouling prevention and control. The impact of biofouling on FCP increase was reduced significantly by a lower linear flow velocity, while spacer orientation and spacer thickness in membrane modules had a smaller but still significant effect. © 2012 Elsevier B.V.

Araújo, P. A., Kruithof, J. C., Van Loosdrecht, M. C. M., & Vrouwenvelder, J. S. (2012). The potential of standard and modified feed spacers for biofouling control. Journal of Membrane Science, 403-404, 58–70. doi:10.1016/j.memsci.2012.02.015

This work was performed by Wetsus, Centre of Excellence for Sustainable Water Technology and Delft University of Technology. Wetsus is funded by the Dutch Ministry of Economic Affairs. The authors like to thank the participants of the Wetsus theme 'Biofouling' and Evides waterbedrijf for the fruitful discussions and their financial support. The input of Marcel Boorsma, Paul Buijs, Patricia Correia, Florian Beyer, Patrick Loulergue, Maud Villain, Harold Hollander, Harm van der Kooi, Wim Borgonje and Arie Zwijnenburg is fully acknowledged.

Elsevier BV

Journal of Membrane Science


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