Analysis of the Flux Performance of Different RO/NF Membranes in the Treatment of Agroindustrial Wastewater by Means of the Boundary Flux Theory

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Dynamic membrane system behaviour must be adequately addressed to avoid process unfeasibility. The lack of proper analysis will mean relying on erroneous permeate flux values in the system design, which will lead to quick and/or steady high fouling rates. In this paper, the authors present additional data supporting the boundary flux theory as a helpful tool for membrane engineers to carefully avoid process failures. By fitting the dynamic permeate flux data to the
boundary flux model, it was possible to calculate the β fouling index for the three selected membranes (one nanofiltration (NF) and two reverse osmosis (RO) ones). The dynamic flux given by the low-pressure RO membrane did not follow sub-boundary operating conditions, since a sharp flux loss was measured throughout the whole operating cycle, pinpointing that supra-boundary flux conditions were governing the system. This was supported by the calculated value of the β fouling parameter, which resulted to be in the order of ten times higher for this membrane. However, the values of β→0 for the SC-RO and DK-NF ones, supported by the very low value of the sub-boundary fouling parameter α (0.002 and 0.007 L·h −1·m−2 ·bar−2 , respectively), ensure nearly boundary operating conditions for these membranes.


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