Photothermally-activated peroxymonosulfate (PMS) pretreatment for fouling alleviation of membrane distillation of surface water: Performance and mechanism

Bingxuan Ji, Zhenghua Zhang

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

15 Scopus citations


Membrane distillation (MD) has demonstrated its efficacy for seawater desalination, which prompted researchers to investigate its performance for the treatment of surface water containing natural organic matter (NOM). However, membrane fouling remains a significant technological constraint in the acceptability and implementation of MD modules. Herein, for the first time, a photothermally-activated PMS pre-treatment process is coupled to a direct contact (DC)-MD module for effective membrane fouling control. Photothermally-activated PMS (2 mM) pre-treatment achieved 69 % of UV254 removal and 30.9 % of dissolved organic carbon removal and allowed stable operation of the DCMD without any reduction in water permeance vs 50 % reduction obtained without the pretreatment step. The analysis of NOM fractions after pre-treatment using Parallel Factor Analysis and molecular weight distribution indicated changes in NOM composition, which facilitated membrane fouling control. The photothermally-activated PMS pre-treatment seems to alleviate membrane fouling by limiting the foulant-membrane interaction, which was observed to result in the formation of the fouling layer containing aromatic proteins, microbial byproducts-like substances, and inorganic (e.g., calcium) foulants. Finally, characterization of the used MD membranes revealed that the MD membrane properties could be kept unchanged by the photothermally-activated PMS pre-treatment step, thereby making the integrated DCMD system sustainable and attractive for widespread applications.
Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)123043
JournalSeparation and Purification Technology
StatePublished - Dec 31 2022
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

KAUST Repository Item: Exported on 2023-01-17
Acknowledgements: Funding by the National Natural Science Foundation of China (52170041), Tsinghua SIGS Start-up Funding (QD2020002N), and the Committee of Science and Technology Innovation of Shenzhen (JCYJ20190813163401660) is acknowledged and appreciated.

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Filtration and Separation
  • Analytical Chemistry


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