Modeling of membrane separation processes for water treatment



Duration: 01.06.2022-31.05.2026

Project management / project work:

Prof. Dr. Mathias Ernst, Muhammad Ismahil


Due to climate change, population growth and the increasing pollution of our environment, water scarcity has become a worldwide problem. As an alternative to conventional water treatment plants, membrane-based processes are currently the most effective solution for drinking water filtration, wastewater treatment and industrial energy applications (Abdelrasoul et al., 2020). The versatile membrane separation processes can be used for the removal of organic pollutants, particles, paint, microbes and viruses, as well as for the desalination of seawater (Ang et al. 2015). However, the challenges in membrane technology in terms of fouling behaviour, scaling and energy consumption require research and development to obtain more sustainable membrane applications.



Membrane modelling makes it possible to obtain important information about membrane performance and selectivity. Although the mechanisms of permeation and rejection are complex, a mathematical model allows minimising the number of laboratory experiments required for development, leading to reduced costs and time savings (Ang et al., 2015).

At the Institute of Water Resources and Water Supply, several experimental research projects are being conducted on membrane filtration processes at laboratory and pilot scale. For example, PAN-UF membranes modified with amine groups are being investigated for the removal of oxygen anions from drinking water sources (Glass et al., 2021). Other innovative projects are investigating the electrosorption and desorption behaviour of natural organic substances on conductive membrane surfaces (Mantel et. al., 2021) or examining the treatment of spent filter backwash water using membrane filtration for water recycling in drinking water supplies. One of the challenges in the latter process is the fouling potential that arises on the membrane surface (Kast et. al., 2022).

The goal of this project is to develop a mathematical model that describes the relevant mechanisms in a porous membrane filtration process. Later, the model will be extended to include adsorption behaviour as well as electrostatic sorption and desorption effects. The experimental data collected from ongoing research projects will be used to validate the model.

Recent project results: Download