Flux decline mechanisms in polyetherimide microfiltration membranes for clarification of synthetic produced water

ABSTRACT Polyetherimide microfiltration membranes were prepared by phase inversion method aiming the control of film thickness, porosity and pore size. 1-methyl-2-pirrolidone was used as solvent and water as non-solvent. The properties of the membranes were addressed by means of scanning electron microscopy, dead-end and tangential flow microfiltration of a synthetic produced water effluent as well as the pore blocking mechanisms of the systems as described by Hermia models. The results showed that membrane morphology was significant modified by the kinetics of precipitation. The medium pore size ranged from 1.2 to 10.4 µm, both with finger-like structure. Permeation tests showed total flux decline lower for tangential flow mode (89.5%) than the dead-end (97.3%). However, the reversible flux decline was higher than the irreversible one in both systems. The rejection was higher than 95.5%, which was addressed by turbidity. Regarding to the mechanisms to describe flux decline, it was evidenced that intermediate pore blocking was able to explain the results for dead-end filtration. Hermia model did not adjust to tangential flow mode, probably due to the stationary flux obtained with time. The results showed the potential of the system to be used in long term microfiltration, since the washing of the membranes is periodically observed.