Unraveling the role of feed temperature and cross-flow velocity on organic fouling in membrane distillation using response surface methodology

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12 Scopus citations


Understanding the role of operating condition on fouling development in membrane distillation (MD) is critical for the further optimization of MD technology. In this study, organic fouling development in MD was investigated varying the feed inlet temperature from 35 to 65 °C and the cross-flow velocity from 0.21 to 0.42 m/s. The fouling layer thickness was estimated at the end of each experiment non-invasively with optical coherence tomography. The set of experiments was mined to model the initial flux decline, the near-stable flux, and the final foulant thickness responses by central composite design, a useful response surface methodology (RSM) tool. The results indicated a linear increment of the fouling thickness by increasing the feed inlet temperatures. Overall, the feed inlet temperature governed both the initial flux decline and the fouling deposition. The benefits in water productivity obtained by increasing the feed temperature were always offset by higher fouling deposition. Higher cross-flow velocities showed a positive effect on the initial flux, which however translated in larger values of the initial flux decline rate. On the other hand, the higher shear stress contributed to a decrease of the final steady-state fouling layer thickness. The proposed approach was proven to be a valuable tool to assess the role of the operating conditions on fouling and process performance in MD.
Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)115971
StatePublished - Jul 28 2022

Bibliographical note

KAUST Repository Item: Exported on 2022-09-14
Acknowledgements: The research reported in this paper was supported by funding from King Abdullah University of Science and Technology (KAUST), Saudi Arabia and by Politecnico di Torino, Italy. Francesco Ricceri acknowledges funding from the CleanWaterCenter@PoliTo for his Ph.D. scholarship (01_TRIN_CI_CWC).

ASJC Scopus subject areas

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


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