The current situation with the problems associated with the removal of oil from wastewaters by membranes is being explored. Many types of membranes have been investigated—organic polymers, inorganic or ceramic species and hybrids of the two. Polymeric membranes can be designed to facilitate the passage of oil, but the more successful approach is with hydrophilic types that encourage the passage of water. Ceramic membranes have an advantage here as they are less often irreversibly fouled and give a higher recovery of oil, with a lower flux decline. Furthermore, they can be cleaned up by a simple heating procedure. More attention should be given to understanding the mechanism of fouling so that operating conditions can be optimised to further reduce fouling and further decrease the flux decline, as well as assisting in the design of antifouling membranes. Another obstacle to ceramic membrane use is the high cost of manufacture. Cheaper starting materials such as clays have been surveyed.
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