Evolution of membrane fouling and cleaning strategy development in municipal wastewater reclamation by nanofiltration

Kun Li, Fan Fang, Qiang Liu, Ruihuan Luo, Jiacheng Li, Yue Zhu, Yuansong Wei, Min Addy, Paul Chen, Roger Ruan

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Scopus citations


Membrane fouling is a serious concern in municipal wastewater treatment using nanofiltration (NF). The variation of NF membrane fouling at different operational durations were monitored and evaluated to understand the evolution of fouling mechanism in the present study. Six representative cleaning methods were picked for tests to deconstruct the structure and composition of the fouling layers on membrane surface. Characteristics of membrane surface morphology and foulants were analysed using advanced methods to investigate the evolution of membrane fouling. Both the composition and concentration of foulants on membrane surface showed significant variations with time during the whole operational duration, indicating the necessity of clear and precise understanding for the evolution of membrane fouling to expound its mechanism in depth. The fouling layers were mainly composed of hydrophobic organics while most inorganic salts were deposited on the surface or embedded into the upper layer of the cake in a short duration. However, after a long duration, the cake layer became thinner with much higher proportion of hydrophilic organics. Meanwhile, more inorganic foulants penetrated deep into the cake layer or even directly absorbed on the membrane surface, which resulted in more complicated fouling scenarios. Moreover, more efficient and effective targeted cleaning strategies could be further established based on the fouling mechanism identified.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1967-1978
Number of pages12
JournalEnvironmental Technology (United Kingdom)
Issue number13
Early online dateNov 8 2019
StatePublished - Nov 8 2019

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This work was supported by the National Natural Science Foundation of China (51768043), the China Postdoctoral Science Foundation (2017M622106), the Science Foundation for Youths of Jiangxi Province, China (20171BAB216037), the Research Foundation of Education Bureau of Jiangxi Province, China (GJJ160214) and the Major Science & Technology Projects for Water Pollution Control and Management of China (No. 2015ZX07203-005).

Publisher Copyright:
© 2019 Informa UK Limited, trading as Taylor & Francis Group.


  • Membrane fouling
  • advanced wastewater treatment
  • cleaning strategy
  • evolution
  • nanofiltration
  • water reuse

PubMed: MeSH publication types

  • Journal Article


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