Synchrotron Fourier transform infrared mapping: A novel approach for membrane fouling characterization

Ming Xie, Wenhai Luo, Stephen R. Gray

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

22 Citations (SciVal)


We described a synchrotron-based infrared (IR) microscopic method to characterize fouling layer induced by organic foulants and colloidal silica in membrane distillation (MD). This technique, utilizing the ultrahigh brightness of synchrotron infrared source, enables spectra with high signal-to-noise ratio that was obtained from micrometer-sized samples. Our results showed that synchrotron IR mapping was able to resolve the foulant spatial distribution in combined fouling in MD. Synchrotron IR mapping showed the spatial distribution of binary foulant (i.e., colloidal silica with alginate, bovine serum albumin (BSA) or humic acid, respectively) of the cross-section of MD membrane fouling layer. The well-resolved synchrotron IR mapping is also able to quantify the foulant distribution along the cross-section of the fouled MD membrane, providing detailed information regarding the transport and accumulation of specific foulant, which is of paramount importance to elucidate fouling mechanisms. Our results demonstrated that the synchrotron IR mapping method was a powerful method and had significant potential for both qualitative and quantitative characterization of membrane fouling layer.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)375-381
Number of pages7
JournalWater Research
Early online date11 Jan 2017
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 11 Jan 2017


  • Combined fouling
  • Fouling characterization
  • Membrane distillation
  • Membrane fouling
  • Synchrotron infrared microscope

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ecological Modelling
  • Water Science and Technology
  • Waste Management and Disposal
  • Pollution


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