Rejection and Critical Flux of Calcium Sulphate in a Ceramic Titanium Dioxide Nanofiltration Membrane

  • Amer Ahmed

Student thesis: Phd


ABSTRACTThis thesis describes the rejection efficiency and the fouling behaviour of calcium sulphate solutes in a 1 nm tubular ceramic titanium dioxide nanofiltration membrane.Calcium sulphate is considered as one of the greatest scaling potential inorganic salts that responsible for membrane fouling which represents a main challenge in the expansion of membrane processes for desalination of brackish and saline water. The surface charge type and magnitude for the composite amphoteric TiO_2 membrane were characterised using streaming potential measurements. Electrokinetic membrane experiments were conducted in a background electrolyte comprising 0.01 M (NaCl). The zeta potential was estimated from the measured streaming potential using the Helmoholtz-Smoluchowski equation and the surface charge density was subsequently calculated using the Gouy-Chapman and Graham equations. The experimental results showed that the membrane was negatively charged at neutral pH and its iso-electrical point (i.e.p) was at pH of 4.0. The rejection behaviour of calcium sulphate at three different initial concentrations (0.001, 0.005 and 0.01 M) were investigated compared to other naturally occurring minerals (NaCl, Na_2 SO_4, CaCl_2) in single salt solutions. The rejection experiments were conducted at five different applied trans-membrane pressures ranged from 1.0 to 5.0 bars. Salt retention measurements showed that the rejection sequence was R (CaSO_4) > R (Na_2 SO_4) > R (CaCl_2) > R (NaCl). This rejection sequence behaviour showed an inverse relationship with the diffusion coefficients of the four salts. The salt with the lowest diffusion coefficient (CaSO_4) showed the highest rejection (43.3%), whereas that with the highest diffusion coefficient showed the lowest rejection. The rejection of calcium sulphate solution at saturation concentration was also conducted after a suspension solution of 0.015 M (CaSO_4) was prepared and filtered. The ionic analysis for calcium sulphate permeates indicated that, for the negatively charged TiO_2 membrane, the rejection for bivalent anion (SO_4^(2-) ) was higher than that of the bivalent cation (Ca^(2+) ).The critical flux (CF) experiments were carried out at six trans-membrane pressure ranged from 1.0 to 6.0 bars to identify the form and the onset of calcium sulphate fouling (as gypsum) using different concentrations below saturation concentration (0.001, 0.005, 0.01 M) and at saturation concentration. Two different flux-pressure techniques have been applied and compared to determine the critical flux values; these are: step by step technique and standard stepping technique. The obtained critical flux results from both measuring techniques (for all the four sessions) confirmed that the critical flux was reached and exceeded. The present work indicated that the resulting critical flux values from both measuring procedures were decreased as the ionic strengths of the calcium sulphate solutes were increased.A mathematical model has been proposed to identify the key parameters that affect the transport performance inside the TiO_2 nanofiltration membrane. The original Donnan steric pore model (DSPM) was used to simulate the rejection of 0.01 M sodium chloride as a reference solution. The membrane effective pore radius was estimated using two different transport models, both of these models depend on the permeation test of uncharged solute (glucose). The Donnan potential was determined based on the membrane effective fixed charge density which was determined by supposing that the membrane surface charge was uniformly distributed in the void volume of cylindrical pores. The theoretical rejection of NaCl solute for the present DSPM model was found to be in agreement with the experimental data.
Date of Award31 Dec 2013
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • The University of Manchester
SupervisorAlastair Martin (Supervisor)


  • Nanofiltration Membrane, Critical Flux, Titanium Dioxide Ceramic Membrane, Salt Rejection, Fouling, Trans-Membrane Pressure, Zeta Potential, Streaming Potential, Electrokinetic Measurements.

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