Development of Membrane Characterization Methods
* Can a surface potential measurement device developed through collaboration between Reclamation and National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) personnel produce reliable information about the surface characteristics of water treatment membranes?
Need and Benefit
Membranes used for water treatment applications have complex surfaces. Some foul on a particular water source while others work very well. With another water source, of the same apparent type, the results may be reversed! This makes predicting which membrane to use very difficult. The cause of the problem may be the interaction between the membrane surface chemistry and the organic fraction of the water source. There are studies going on at CU Boulder funded by American Water Works Association Research Foundation (AWWARF) that are focusing on better characterization of water and membrane surfaces but the current tool for measuring membrane surface energy is intended to work with inert surfaces. Membranes absorb water and change while the measurement is taking place causing a wide degree of variability in the measurements.
An improved method was developed by under the Science and Technology (S&T) Program research project and published in the report Reclamation report R-97-03, "Enhancement of Membrane Fouling Resistance through Surface Modification" by Michelle Chapman Wilbert. The purpose of this project is to build an instrument to measure streaming potential of membrane surfaces using this method.
This relates to the S&T mission to enhance water supply quantity and quality by developing a tool to help choose the most productive membranes for treating surface water in the Western United States. Using a membrane that is well suited to the local water supply will decrease maintenance and replacement costs of these processes.
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