Llanos J, Williams PM, Cheng S, Rogers D, Wright C, Pérez A, Cañizares P

Water Res. 2010 Jun;44(11):3522–30

In the present study, the atomic force microscopy (AFM) technique has been used to characterize a Carbosep M5 ceramic membrane(MWCO=10kDa, TiO(2)-ZrO(2) active layer). This membrane was previously used in a polymer supported ultrafiltration (PSU) process to recover copper, using partially ethoxylated polyethylenimine as the water-soluble polymer. The membrane was characterized in four different operationalstates: new, new and cleaned, fouled in a PSU stage and cleaned after a PSU process. The influence of the membrane state on pore opening size distribution and roughness was studied, finding a 16% decrease in the former and a 20% increase in the latter due to foulant deposition upon themembrane active layer. Phase angle distribution was also analyzed to indicate the foulant spreading on the membrane surface. These phase angle measurements can be related to pore opening size and roughness, concluding that the cleaning procedure is not totally effective and that foulant presence on the membrane active layer is not remarkable. Finally, AFM was used to measure the influence of pH on adhesion forces between a silica probe and the membrane active layer. These results can be related to the flux evolution vs pH in PSU experiments, finding both lowest adhesion and highest flux at pH 6.