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Open AccessArticle

An Autopsy Study of a Fouled Reverse Osmosis Membrane Used for Ultrapure Water Production

by Hojung Rho 1, Kangmin Chon 2,* and Jaeweon Cho 1,*
School of Urban and Environmental Engineering, Ulsan National Institute of Science and Technology (UNIST), 50 UNIST-gil, Eonyang-eup, Ulju-gun, Ulsan 44919, Korea
Department of Environmental Engineering, College of Engineering, Kangwon National University, 1 Kangwondaehak-gil, Chuncheon-si, Gangwon-do 24341, Korea
Authors to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Water 2019, 11(6), 1116;
Received: 19 April 2019 / Revised: 15 May 2019 / Accepted: 24 May 2019 / Published: 28 May 2019
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Membrane and Membrane-Based Hybrid Processes for Water Treatment)
This study investigated the fouling and cleaning behaviors of reverse osmosis (RO) membranes in a lab–scale ultrapure water (UPW) production system via membrane autopsies and characterization of dissolved organic matter (DOM) and membrane foulants. Most of DOM were effectively removed by the MFC filter, with the exception of the peak at 150 Da. The RO membranes were effective in reducing conductivity, DOM, total nitrogen (TN), and ultraviolet A (UVA254nm) concentration; the polishing stage using IER filter resulted in ultra-trace levels of all these parameters required for semiconductor manufacturing (> 18.2 ΩM). The quantity of the desorbed RO membrane foulants, in terms of dissolved organic carbon (DOC), varied considerably depending on the type of desorbing agents: 0.1 N NaCl (65.12 mgC m−2) > 0.1 N NaOH (46.14 mgC m−2) > deionized water (25.39 mgC m−2) > 0.1 N HCl (15.95 mgC m−2). The high cleaning efficiency of the salt solution (0.1 N NaCl) was attributed to the efficient desorption of hydrophilic DOM foulants from the RO membrane surfaces. These results demonstrate that the salt cleaning may provide a promising option to recover the performance of the RO membranes fouled primarily by hydrophilic DOM fractions. View Full-Text
Keywords: membrane fouling; membrane autopsy; reverse osmosis; ultrapure water membrane fouling; membrane autopsy; reverse osmosis; ultrapure water
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Rho, H.; Chon, K.; Cho, J. An Autopsy Study of a Fouled Reverse Osmosis Membrane Used for Ultrapure Water Production. Water 2019, 11, 1116.

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