Table of Contents
Scholarly Research Exchange
Volume 2009, Article ID 624012, 7 pages
Research Article

Fouling of Ultrafiltration Membranes during Isolation of Hemicelluloses in the Forest Industry

Department of Chemical Engineering, Lund University, P.O. Box 124, 221 00 Lund, Sweden

Received 1 July 2008; Revised 12 February 2009; Accepted 19 March 2009

Copyright © 2009 Tobias Persson and Ann-Sofi Jönsson. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


The process streams in the forest industry contain a large amount of hemicelluloses that today ends up in the wastewater. This is an unfortunate loss of a renewable raw material. The hemicelluloses can be isolated from the process stream by using membrane filtration in a process that produces purified water as a by-product, thereby facilitating increased recirculation. However, process streams from the forest industry contain both aromatic compounds and inorganic ions that are known to cause fouling of the membranes. Thus, the most suitable membrane and pretreatment from a cost-efficient point of view must be applied to avoid fouling and life-time shortening of the membranes during operation. In the present investigation, fouling during ultrafiltration of a process stream from the production of Masonite was studied. The fouling of a hydrophilic membrane made of regenerated cellulose was less severe than the fouling of hydrophobic membranes made of polyether sulphone and a composite fluoropolymer. Pretreatment of the wastewater with activated carbon resulted in higher flux and less fouling of both hydrophilic and hydrophobic membranes. Lowering the pH of the wastewater led to less severe fouling of the regenerated cellulose membrane, but lower flux of the composite fluoropolymer membrane.