Impact of Acid Cleaning on the Performance of PVDF UF Membranes in Seawater Reverse Osmosis Pretreatment

  • Safiya Alsogair

Student thesis: Master's Thesis


Low-pressure membrane systems such as Microfiltration (MF) and Ultrafiltration (UF) have been presented as viable option to pre-treatment systems in potable water applications. UF membranes are sporadically backwashed with ultra-filtered water to remove deposited matter from the membrane and restore it. Several factors that may cause permeability and selectivity decrease are involved and numerous procedures are applicable to achieve this objective. Membrane cleaning is the most important step required to maintain the characteristics of the membrane. This research was made with the purpose of investigating the effects of acid cleaning during chemically enhanced backwashing (CEB) on the performance of ultrafiltration (UF) membranes in seawater reverse osmosis (SWRO) pretreatment. To accomplish this, the questions made were: Does the acid addition (before or after the alkali CEB) influence the overall CEB cleaning effectiveness on Dow UF membrane? Does the CEB order of alkali (NaOCl) and acid (H2SO4) affect the overall CEB cleaning effectiveness? If yes, which order is better/worse? What is the optimal acid CEB frequency that will ensure the most reliable performance of the UF?. To answer this queries, a series of sequences were carried out with different types of chemical treatments: Only NaOCl, daily NaOCl plus weekly acid, daily NaOCl plus daily acid, and weekly acid plus daily NaOCl. To investigate the consequence of acid by studying the effect of operational data like the trans-pressure membrane, resistance or permeability and support that by the analytical experiments (organic, inorganic and microbial characterization). Microorganisms were removed almost completely at hydraulic cleaning and showed no difference with addition of acid. As a conclusion of the operational data the organic and inorganic chatacterization resulted in the elimination of the first sequence due to the acummulation of fouling over time, which produces that the cleaning increases downtime, productivity diminishes, Increases water cost, shortens membrane lifespan and the frequency of cleaning in place (CIP). The elimination of the third sequence, NaOCl followed by daily acid, resulted in excessive dosing of acid which affects fibers and increases the water cost. The removal of organic carbon and inorganic fractions for the second and third sequence were investigated. The better removal of Iron was in the last sequence with value of 11.52 mg/l due to acid was dose first which target inorganic foulants. The better removal of bio polymers was obtained at the second sequence with a value of 0.95 mg/l owed to the influence of chorine CEB to acid which oxidized biopolymers with higher molecular weight to smaller, then when the acid CEB removed it in a larger amount. While the last sequence was 0.57 mg/l. It can be concluded that second sequence provided a better removal that the last sequence. To support this conclusion, the operational data was compared to the second sequence is operationally sustainable, therefore in this revision the best sequence was the second.
Date of AwardMay 5 2016
Original languageEnglish (US)
Awarding Institution
  • Physical Sciences and Engineering
SupervisorTorOve Leiknes (Supervisor)


  • Chemical Cleaning
  • Ultrafiltration
  • CEB
  • Membrane Fouling
  • LC-OCD
  • Effluents

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