Recently, membrane surface patterning has attracted much attention as an innovative alternative to control membrane fouling that occurs with membrane filtration used in water and wastewater treatment. However, limited attention has been focused on patterned membranes with nano-scale features due to their difficult fabrication. As a result, there is a lack of research on membrane fouling by particle deposition occurring with a wide range of pattern sizes. In this study, we prepared patterned membranes with nano-scale hexagonally packed arrays using nanoimprint lithography as well as micro-scale patterned membranes. Filtration tests were conducted using the membranes in cross-flow ultrafiltration to demonstrate the effect of the size ratio of particles to membrane patterns on fouling by particle deposition on the membrane surface. We found that particle deposition was most efficiently mitigated by the patterned membranes when the size ratio was approximately 3. On the other hand, when the size ratio was much smaller than 3, particle deposition was significant and was nearly as much as that of non-patterned membranes. In addition, when the size ratio was larger than 3, particle deposition increased with the increase in the size ratio. We explained the correlation between particle deposition and the size ratio of particles to membrane patterns in terms of shear stress near the surface of the membrane patterns using a computational fluid dynamics simulation technique. We anticipate that this study will provide a deeper understanding of the particle deposition phenomena in nano- and micro-patterned membrane filtration.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Analytical Chemistry
- Filtration and Separation