Fabrication of conductive ceramic membranes for electrically assisted fouling control during membrane filtration for wastewater treatment

Research output: Journal Publications and Reviews (RGC: 21, 22, 62)21_Publication in refereed journalpeer-review

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  • Pu Li
  • Chao Yang
  • Feiyun Sun
  • Xiao-yan Li

Related Research Unit(s)


Original languageEnglish
Article number130794
Journal / PublicationChemosphere
Online published5 May 2021
Publication statusPublished - Oct 2021


Membrane technology is widely used in water and wastewater treatment. However, membrane fouling remains one of the biggest challenges for membrane applications. In this study, an electrically assisted technique was developed for the control of fouling on flat-sheet ceramic membranes. The novel conductive membrane was fabricated by coating dopamine and carbon nanotubes (CNTs) onto the surface of an α-alumina membrane support to form a conductive CNT coating. The resulting flat-sheet conductive ceramic membrane (FSCCM) exhibited excellent electric conductivity and stability, which performed well in filtration of the synthetic wastewater containing inorganic matter (kaolin solution) or organic pollutants (oil emulsion). By applying a negative charge on the FSCCM with a DC voltage of 2.0 V, the membrane fouling rate was reduced by approximately 50%. The energy consumption rate for the electrically assisted membrane fouling control was only 22.2 × 10−3 kWh/m3 in paused-charge mode, with a pause duration of 15 s. A fouling-layer analysis indicted that the imposed electric field greatly reduced the amount of strongly attached foulants on the membrane surface and in the membrane pores. It is believed that the electric field exerted an electrostatic force on the negatively charged pollutants, such as particles and oil droplets, which prevented the foulants from attaching to the membrane surface. This FSCCM-based method provides a clean, effective, and energy-efficient technique for membrane fouling control, thereby enabling high-rate membrane filtration.

Research Area(s)

  • Conductive membrane, Electric field, Flat-sheet ceramic membrane, Membrane filtration, Membrane fouling control