3D printed feed spacers based on triply periodic minimal surfaces for flux enhancement and biofouling mitigation in RO and UF

Nurshaun Sreedhar, Navya Thomas, Oraib Al-Ketan, Reza Rowshan, Hector Hernandez, Rashid K. Abu Al-Rub, Hassan A. Arafat

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Abstract

In this proof of concept study, 3D printed feed spacers with complex geometries based on triply periodic minimal surfaces (TPMS) were designed and tested in reverse osmosis (RO) and ultrafiltration (UF) processes. The spacers showed flux enhancement of 15.5% and 38% in brackish water RO and UF tests with sodium alginate solution, respectively, in comparison to a commercial feed spacer. Moreover, lower feed channel pressure drop was also observed for the TPMS spacers. Biofouling tests were performed and the membranes were characterized using total organic carbon (TOC) and fluorescence microscopy. The TPMS spacers yielded a reduction in biofouling when compared to commercial feed spacers. Fouling patterns on the membranes were visualized for the different spacers using crystal violet stain, which also revealed a significantly reduced biofilm deposition using the TPMS spacers. The TPMS-based feed spacers have shown great promise in enhancing both RO and UF membrane processes, both in terms of flux enhancement and fouling reduction.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)12-21
Number of pages10
JournalDesalination
Volume425
DOIs
StatePublished - Jan 1 2018

Keywords

  • 3D printing
  • Feed spacers
  • Reverse osmosis
  • Triply periodic minimal surfaces
  • Ultrafiltration

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Chemistry(all)
  • Chemical Engineering(all)
  • Materials Science(all)
  • Water Science and Technology
  • Mechanical Engineering

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