The potential of standard and modified feed spacers for biofouling control

Paula A. Araújo, Joop C. Kruithof, Mark C.M. van Loosdrecht, Johannes S. Vrouwenvelder

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

81 Scopus citations


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.
Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)58-70
Number of pages13
JournalJournal of Membrane Science
StatePublished - Jun 2012

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry
  • Filtration and Separation
  • Materials Science(all)
  • Physical and Theoretical Chemistry


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