Ultrasound based on-line cleaning for membrane filtration of industrial wastewater was studied. An ultrasonic transducer was assembled in the membrane module in order to get an efficient cleaning of membranes in fouling conditions. The focus of the studies was on the effects of the ultrasound propagation direction and frequency as well as the transmembrane pressure. The more open the membrane was the easier the membrane became plugged by wastewater colloids, when the ultrasound propagation direction was from the feed flow side of the membrane. If the membrane was tight enough, the ultrasound irradiated from the feed side of the membrane increased the flux significantly. However, in the circumstances studied, the power intensity needed during filtration was so high that the membranes eroded gradually at some spots of the membrane surface. It was discovered that the ultrasonic field produced by the used transducers was uneven in pressurised conditions. On the other hand, the ultrasound treatment at atmospheric pressure during an intermission pause in filtration turned out to be an efficient and, at the same time, a gentle method in membrane cleaning. The input power of 120 W (power intensity of 1.1 W/cm2) for a few seconds was sufficient for cleaning. The flux improvement was significant when using a frequency of 27 kHz but only minor when using 200 kHz.
- membrane filtration
- industrial wastewater