Quantifying the effect of ionic strength on colloidal fouling potential in membrane filtration

Gurdev Singh, Lianfa Song

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

48 Scopus citations


Ultrafiltration experiments were conducted to study the fouling potential of colloidal suspensions under different ionic strengths and colloid concentrations. A linear relationship was found relating the colloidal fouling potential to the logarithm of the Debye-Hückel parameter, a characteristic for electrical double layers of colloids. This finding provided a useful quantitative linkage between the colloidal fouling potential and the water chemistry. Considering the linear dependence of colloidal fouling potential on the colloid concentration, a bilinear model was proposed to explain the coupling effects of colloid concentration and ionic strength of the suspension on the fouling potential. The model predictions of fouling potential were found to fit accurately with experimentally determined fouling potential values. Further analysis of the model showed that ionic strength can significantly affect colloidal fouling, for example, a 10-fold increase in ionic strength from 0.001 to 0.01 M for a given feed concentration has the same membrane fouling effect as doubling the feed concentration. The model allows for a quick and reliable assessment of fouling potential without even performing any experiments. This could then be used to design the membrane process or pretreatment stages required to mitigate membrane fouling.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)630-638
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of Colloid And Interface Science
Issue number2
StatePublished - Apr 15 2005


  • Colloidal feed waters
  • Fouling potential
  • Ionic strength
  • Quantitative
  • Water chemistry


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