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Dramatic improvement of membrane performance for microalgae harvesting with a simple bubble-generator plate

Hwang, Taewoon, Oh, You-Kwan, Kim, Bohwa, Han, Jong-In
Bioresource technology 2015 v.186 pp. 343-347
filtration, fouling, harvesting, hydrodynamics, microalgae, shear stress
To overcome fouling issue in membrane-based algae harvesting and thus make an otherwise promising harvesting option more competitive, a bubble-generator plate was developed. According to computational fluid dynamics analysis, the plate generated substantial hydrodynamic power in terms of high pressure, velocity, and shear stress. When installed in a membrane filtration system with membranes of different surface and structural characteristics (one prepared by the phase inversion method, and a commercial one) the bubble-generator was indeed effective in reducing fouling. Without the plate, the much cheaper homemade membrane had the similar performance as the commercial one. Use of the bubble-generator considerably improved the performance of both membranes, and revealed a valuable synergy with the asymmetrical structure of the homemade membrane. This result clearly showed that the ever-problematic fouling could be mitigated in a rather easy manner, and in so doing, that membrane technology could indeed become a practical option for algae harvesting.