Fouling control in ceramic nanofiltration membranes during municipal sewage treatment

F. C. Kramer*, R. Shang, L. C. Rietveld, Sebastiaan Heijman

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

19 Citations (Scopus)
79 Downloads (Pure)


Using ceramic nanofiltration membranes for treatment of municipal sewage is upcoming. However, the knowledge on fouling control methods for this application are very limited. The most commonly used fouling control method, chemical cleaning, has disadvantages. Chemical cleaning negatively impacts (i) the glass seal layer of tubular ceramic nanofiltration membranes and (ii) the environment, especially when using sodium hypochlorite for removal of organic fouling. Therefore, the use of chemical cleaning should be limited as much as possible. In this research, first, the well-known fouling control methods for polymeric micro- and ultrafiltration membranes, were studied on ceramic nanofiltration membranes: hydraulic backwash and forward flush. Second, a precoat method was combined with a chemical reaction to aid the detachment of the formed cake layer. In this method, a precoat layer was filtered atop of the membrane surface before the start of filtration. The precoat layer then acts as a barrier between the foulants and the membrane surface. After filtration, the precoat layer reacts with the cleaning reagent underneath the fouling layer to enable fast removal of fouling. Results showed that hydraulic backwash was not effective to be used for this type of membranes. Forward flush was able to maintain a higher flux but the relative production downtime was high. Reaction based precoat was most effective in maintaining a high flux and resulted in the highest net water production. Two reaction based precoat methods were tested of which the reaction of calcium carbonate with citric acid was more effective than a Fenton reaction.

Original languageEnglish
Article number116373
Number of pages9
JournalSeparation and Purification Technology
Publication statusPublished - 2020

Bibliographical note

Green Open Access added to TU Delft Institutional Repository ‘You share, we take care!’ – Taverne project Otherwise as indicated in the copyright section: the publisher is the copyright holder of this work and the author uses the Dutch legislation to make this work public.


  • Ceramic nanofiltration
  • Forward flush
  • Fouling control
  • Municipal sewage
  • Reaction based precoat


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