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UBC Theses and Dissertations

Making membranes more efficient: mapping surface shear in a pilot-scale submerged hollow-fibre membrane cassette using electrochemical shear probes Fulton, Blair G.


Optimization of gas sparging (ie. gas flow rate used for gas scouring) and module design has great potential to decrease fouling and improve energy efficiency in submerged membrane systems. Shear stress has been widely recognized as a controlling factor in the fouling of most types of membrane systems, but despite its relevance few researchers have attempted to quantify this variable in submerged hollow fiber systems, forcing membrane designers to infer processes at the membrane surface indirectly from flux and transmembrane pressure data. The present study utilized electrochemical probes to map the shear stresses on full-scale hollow fiber membrane modules in a pilot-scale air sparged submerged membrane system (GE-Zenon Zeeweed-500c). The effects of sparging rate, membrane module spacing, fiber tension, and sparging pattern were investigated, and all were determined to significantly affect shear stress profiles. The results of this study, presented largely as ‘shear maps’, provide insight into the roles of gas sparging and module configuration on shear stress profiles in submerged membrane systems.

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