Proof of Concept for Light Conducting Membrane Substrate for UV-Activated Photocatalysis as an Alternative to Chemical Cleaning

Membranes (Basel). 2018 Dec 2;8(4):122. doi: 10.3390/membranes8040122.


Adopting an effective strategy to control fouling is a necessary requirement for all membrane processes used in the water/wastewater treatment industry to operate sustainably. The use of ultraviolet (UV) activated photocatalysis has been shown to be effective in mitigating ceramic membrane fouling by natural organic matter. The widely used configuration in which light is directed through the polluted water to the membrane's active layer suffers from inefficiencies brought about by light absorption by the pollutants and light shielding by the cake layer. To address these limitations, directing light through the substrate, instead of through polluted water, was studied. A UV conducting membrane was prepared by dip coating TiO₂ onto a sintered glass substrate. The substrate could successfully conduct UV from a lamp source, unlike a typical alumina substrate. The prepared membrane was applied in the filtration of a humic acid solution as a model compound to study natural organic matter membrane fouling. Directing UV through the substrate showed only a 1 percentage point decline in the effectiveness of the cleaning method over two cleaning events from 72% to 71%, while directing UV over the photocatalytic layer had a 9 percentage point decline from 84% to 75%. Adapting the UV-through-substrate configuration could be more useful in maintaining membrane functionality during humic acid filtration than the current method being used.

Keywords: Titanium dioxide; membrane fouling; photocatalytic membrane; water treatment.