Particle track and trace during membrane filtration by direct observation with a high speed camera

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A methodology was developed for direct observation and analysis of particle movements near a microfiltration membrane. A high speed camera (1196 frames per second) was mounted on a microscope to record a hollow fiber membrane in a filtration cell with a transparent wall. Filtrations were conducted at varying pressure and crossflow velocities using synthetic core–shell particles (diameter 1.6 µm) of no and high negative surface charge. MATLAB scripts were developed to track the particle positions and calculate velocities of particle movements across and towards the membrane surface. Data showed that the velocity of particles along the membrane increases with distance from the membrane surface which correlates well with a fluid velocity profile obtained from CFD modelling. Particle track and trace was used to calculate the particle count profiles towards the membrane and document a higher concentration of particles near the membrane surface than in the bulk. Calculation of particle velocity towards and away from the membrane showed a region within 3–80 µm from the membrane surface with particle velocities higher than expected from the velocity of water through the membrane, thus the permeation drag underpredicts the actual velocity of particles towards the membrane. Near the membrane, particle velocities shift direction and move away. This is not described in classical filtration theory, but it has been speculated that this is an effect of particle rotation or due to membrane vibration or change in flow pattern close to the membrane.

Original languageEnglish
Article number68
Issue number4
Number of pages17
Publication statusPublished - 2020


  • Fouling
  • Image analysis
  • Microfiltration
  • Microscopy
  • Model particles
  • Monitoring


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