Membrane characterization by dynamic hysteresis: Measurements, mechanisms, and implications for membrane fouling

Sangyoup Lee, Eunsu Lee, Menachem Elimelech, Seungkwan Hong

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

28 Citations (Scopus)


The surface characteristics of reverse osmosis membranes and their relation to membrane fouling are systematically investigated by measuring membrane dynamic hysteresis based on the Wilhelmy plate method. Dynamic hysteresis represents the difference between the forces applied to a membrane surface when it is advanced into and withdrawn from a liquid or solution. Our results demonstrate that the chemical surface heterogeneity of various RO membranes could be quantified by measuring their dynamic hysteresis. The chemical heterogeneity was mostly related to the distribution of surface charge rather than average zeta potential. There was a remarkable correlation between the chemical surface heterogeneity and membrane dynamic hysteresis. It was clearly shown that dynamic hysteresis varied substantially with respect to the solution chemistry of test solutions. The dynamic hysteresis of RO membranes measured in the presence of organic foulants was further related to the flux-decline rate determined from bench-scale fouling experiments. It was found that higher flux-decline rate was obtained for RO membranes with larger dynamic hysteresis. Based on the results in this study, it is demonstrated that dynamic hysteresis measurements can be a promising tool for characterizing membrane surfaces as well as assessing membrane fouling.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)17-24
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of Membrane Science
Issue number1-2
Publication statusPublished - 2011 Jan 1


  • Charge distribution
  • Dynamic hysteresis
  • Membrane fouling
  • RO membrane
  • Surface heterogeneity

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry
  • Materials Science(all)
  • Physical and Theoretical Chemistry
  • Filtration and Separation


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