Numerical study on permeate flux enhancement by spacers in a crossflow reverse osmosis channel

Shengwei Ma, Lianfa Song

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

60 Scopus citations


The impact of spacer configurations (i.e. cavity, zigzag and submerged) and mesh length on the alleviation of concentration polarization and the enhancement of permeate flux in the crossflow reverse osmosis membrane channels was investigated. In this study, the wall concentration and permeate flux were directly determined from the numerical solutions of the fully coupled governing equations of momentum and mass transfer in the feed channel. It was demonstrated that the average permeate flux could be significantly enhanced by the spacers, especially those with zigzag configuration. Simulations showed that the zigzag configuration was the most effective one to alleviate concentration polarization and to enhance permeate flux while the submerged configuration is the least. It was further found that an optimum mesh length (corresponding to the maximum permeate flux enhancement) existed for cavity and zigzag configurations and the optimum mesh length decreased with increasing salinity of the feed water. The results suggested that different mesh length should be used in membrane modules for feed waters of different salinities to obtain the maximum permeate flux enhancement.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)102-109
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of Membrane Science
Issue number1-2
StatePublished - Nov 1 2006


  • Concentration polarization
  • Numerical simulation
  • Permeate flux
  • Reverse osmosis
  • Spacer configurations


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