Fouling mechanisms of dairy streams during membrane distillation

A. Hausmann, P. Sanciolo, T. Vasiljevic, M. Weeks, C.G.P.H. Schroën, S. Gray, M. Duke

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

45 Citations (Scopus)


This study reports on fouling mechanisms of skim milk and whey during membrane distillation (MD) using polytetrafluoroethylene (PTFE) membranes. Structural and elemental changes along the fouling layer from the anchorpoint at the membrane to the topsurface of the fouling layer have been investigated using synchrotron IR micro-spectroscopy and electron microscopy with associated energy dispersive X-ray spectroscopy(EDS)Initial adhesion of single components on a membrane representing a PTFEsurface was observed in-situ utilizing reflectometry.Whey components were found to penetrate into the membrane matrix while skim milk fouling remained on top of the membrane. Whey proteins had weaker attractive interaction with the membrane and adhesion depended more on the presence of phosphorus near the membrane surface and throughout to establish the fouling layer. This work has given detailed insight into the fouling mechanisms of MD membranes in major dairy streams, essential for maintaining membrane distillation as operational for acceptable times, therewith allowing further development of this emerging technology.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)102-111
JournalJournal of Membrane Science
Publication statusPublished - 2013


  • calcium-phosphate
  • skimmed-milk
  • osmotic distillation
  • whey proteins
  • ultrafiltration
  • microfiltration
  • adsorption
  • stability
  • spectroscopy
  • precursors

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