Monitoring residual fouling after cleaning of multi-fiber membrane modules fiber-by-fiber using non-invasive MRI monitoring

Bin Yan, Bastiaan Blankert, Sarah J. Vogt, Johannes S. Vrouwenvelder, Michael L. Johns, Einar O. Fridjonsson*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review


In this study non-invasive low field magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) technology was used to monitor fouling induced changes in fiber-by-fiber hydrodynamics inside a multi-fiber hollow fiber membrane module containing 401 fibers. Using structural and velocity images the fouling evolution of these membrane modules were shown to exhibit distinct trends in fiber-by-fiber volumetric flow, with increasing fouling causing a decrease in the number of flow active fibers. This study shows that the fouling rate is not evenly distributed over the parallel fibers, which results in a broadening of the fiber to fiber flowrate distribution. During cleaning, this distribution is initially broadened further, as relatively clean fibers are cleaned more rapidly compared to clogged fibers. By tracking the volumetric flow rate of individual fibers inside the modules during the fouling-cleaning cycle it was possible to observe a fouling memory-like effect with residual fouling occurring preferentially at the outer edge of the fiber bundle during repeated fouling-cleaning cycle. These results demonstrate the ability of MRI velocity imaging to quantitatively monitor these effects which are important when testing the effectiveness of cleaning protocols due to the long term effect that residual fouling and memory-like effect may have on the operation of membrane modules.

Original languageEnglish
Article number119384
Number of pages11
JournalWater Research
Publication statusPublished - 2023

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.


  • Cleaning strategies
  • Drinking water
  • Membrane
  • MRI velocity imaging
  • Ultrafiltration


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