Existing works on the influence of spatial effects on flux and permeation of proteins in microfiltration (MF) have focused on ceramic membranes. There is little information on spiral-wound membranes (SWMs). Since the inner core of a SWM is practically inaccessible by non-destructive techniques, three different prototypes were constructed in this study to optimize suitability for the investigation of spatial effects on filtration performance. To measure the pressure drop, shortened SWMs 0.25, 0.50, and 0.75 times the length of a standard industrial SWM (0.96 m) were designed. Second, a sectioned membrane (0.96 m) with separated compartments on the permeate side was constructed to analyze spatial effects on flux and protein permeation along the flow path of a SWM. Three different features characterized this sectioned module: sectioned permeate pockets, a sectioned permeate collection tube, and sectioned permeate drain and measurement systems. Crossflow filtration experiments showed that these modifications did not alter the filtration performance compared to an unmodified control SWM. Thus, it can be applied to assess spatially-resolved filtration performance in SWMs. The third prototype designed was a test cell with accessible flat sheet membranes and spacer material, as in SWMs. The flow path in this test cell was designed to match the characteristics of the channels between the membrane sheets in a standard SWM as closely as possible. The flow path length and the combination of membrane material and spacer architecture were the same as in the control SWM. This test cell was designed to assess the effects of length and processing conditions on the formation of a deposit layer. The combined results of these test modules can yield new insights into the spatial distribution of flux, permeation of target components, and deposit formation.
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