Unified membrane fouling index for low pressure membrane filtration of natural waters: Principles and methodology

Haiou Huang, Thayer A. Young, Joseph G. Jacangelo

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

170 Scopus citations


Membrane filtration is considered an important technology that can contribute to the sustainability of water supplies. However, its continued development necessitates the establishment of proper techniques for the assessment of membrane fouling. Unified Membrane Fouling Index (UMFI) was developed in this study in order to quantify and assess the fouling of low-pressure membranes (LPM) observed at various scales of water treatment. The foundation of UMFI is a revised Hermia model applied to both constant pressure and constant flux filtration. The adoption of UMFI makes it possible to simplify and standardize the bench-scale testing of membrane fouling potential by directly using the commercial LPM of interest. This approach can overcome a major challenge to fouling assessment, i.e., the membrane-specificity of fouling potential, which has not been wholly addressed by existing fouling indices. The fundamentals of UMFI are presented inthis paper, together with the methodology for bench-scale testing. The application of UMFI to the assessment of the fouling of a LPM by a natural surface water is also discussed. Good agreement between bench-scale UMFI and pilot-scale UMFI was found, suggesting the validity of this new scientific concept for environmental applications.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)714-720
Number of pages7
JournalEnvironmental Science and Technology
Issue number3
StatePublished - Feb 1 2008
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Chemistry(all)
  • Environmental Chemistry


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