Flux Enhancement for Membrane Filtration of Bacterial Suspensions Using High-Frequency Backpulsing

Flux Enhancement for Membrane Filtration of Bacterial Suspensions Using High-Frequency Backpulsing

Flux Enhancement for Membrane Filtration of Bacterial Suspensions Using High-Frequency Backpulsing

Abstract

A promising method for reducing membrane fouling during crossflow microfiltration of biological suspensions is backpulsing. Very short backpulses (0.1-1.0 s) have been used to increase the net flux for washed bacterial suspensions and whole bacterial fermentation broths. The net fluxes under optimum backpulsing conditions for the washed bacteria are approximately 10-fold higher than those obtained during normal crossflow microfiltration operation, whereas only a 2-fold improvement in the net flux is achieved for the fermentation broths. A theory is presented that is based on external fouling during forward filtration and nonuniform cleaning of the membrane during reverse filtration. The model contains an adjustable parameter which is a measure of the cleaning efficiency during backpulsing; the cleaning efficiency found by fitting the model to the experiments increases with increasing frequency and duration of the backpulses. The theory predicts an optimum backpulsing frequency, as was observed experimentally. An economic analysis shows that crossflow microfiltration with backpulsing has lower costs than centrifugation, rotary vacuum filtration, and crossflow microfiltration without backpulsing.

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