Combined influence of membrane surface properties and feed water qualities on RO/NF mass transfer, a pilot study

Yu Zhao, James Taylor, Seungkwan Hong

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

25 Citations (Scopus)


The impact of membrane surface characteristics and NOM on membrane performance has been investigated for varying pretreatment and membranes in a field study. Surface charge, hydrophobicity and roughness varied significantly among the four membranes used in the study. The membranes were tested in parallel following two different pretreatment processes, an enhanced Zenon ultrafiltration process (ZN) and a compact CSF process (Superpulsator (SP)) prior to RO membrane treatment for a total of eight integrated membrane systems. All membrane systems were exposed to the similar temperature, recovery and flux as well as chemical dosage. The membrane feed water qualities were statistically equivalent following ZN pretreatment and SP pretreatment except for NOM and SUVA. Membrane surface characteristics, NOM and SUVA measurements were used to describe mass transfer in a low-pressure RO integrated membrane system. Solute and water mass transfer coefficients (MTCs) were investigated for dependence on membrane surface properties and NOM mass loading. Inorganic MTCs were accurately described by a Gaussian distribution curve. Water productivity decreased with NOM loading and increased with contact angle and roughness. The negative effects of NOM loading on productivity were reduced as the negative charge on the membrane surface increased. Inorganic MTCs were also correlated to surface hydrophobicity and surface roughness. The permeability change of identical membranes was related to NOM loading, hydrophobicity and roughness. Organic fouling as measured by water, organic and inorganic mass transfer was less for membranes with higher hydrophilicity and roughness.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1233-1244
Number of pages12
JournalWater Research
Issue number7
Publication statusPublished - 2005 Apr
Externally publishedYes


  • Integrated membrane systems
  • Membrane surface properties
  • Natural organic matter
  • Solute mass transfer
  • Water mass transfer

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Environmental Engineering
  • Civil and Structural Engineering
  • Ecological Modelling
  • Water Science and Technology
  • Waste Management and Disposal
  • Pollution


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