Understanding the Basics of Microfiltration

Because it is often less expensive and greener than most other separation technologies, membrane filtration is widely used in industries today. Defined as the mechanical or physical process of separating substances, filtration has a broad range of applications, including wastewater treatment, water treatment, solvent recovery, metal and catalyst recovery, gas separation, and many others. No matter where or how it is used, there are several different types of membrane filtration that are based on relative particle size.

What Is Microfiltration?

Along with ultrafiltration, microfiltration is the most commonly used method of membrane filtration. It is used to remove particles that range in size from approximately 0.05 to 10 micrometers. As with every other type of filtration, particles are removed or retained after passing through the filter medium because they are larger than the pores of the filter. It should be noted that chemical interactions and fluid viscosity play a role in how quickly and effectively the microfiltration process removes undesirable particles.

Driving Force

For fluid to pass through a filter, removing particles in the process, some outside force is needed. On an extremely small scale, such as a laboratory experiment, gravity is often a sufficient driving force to complete microfiltration. But on a larger, industrial scale, gravity filtration is simply too slow. As such, a stronger driving force is needed to expedite the filtration process. In most cases, that means using a vacuum to suck or push the fluid through the filter. Another fairly common separation process is membrane distillation, which uses temperature differences as a driving force.

Dead-end vs. Crossflow

Microfiltration can be achieved with either dead-end or crossflow modes. The former uses perpendicular movements of the feed stream (the flowing liquid to be filtered) across the membrane surface for successful separation, while the latter uses parallel movements of the feed stream. Because it is considered by many to be more efficient, crossflow filtration mode is more popular in large-scale industrial applications.

Microfilter Membranes

A pressure-driven process, microfiltration removes suspended solids and colloids, while macro-molecules and dissolved solids are allowed to pass through the membrane. Microfilter membranes are specifically designed to remove suspended solids, bacteria, and flocculated materials from the fluid solution. Because the particles that must be removed are relatively large, compared with other types of filtration, the microfiltration process operates at low pressure, typically 10 PSI or lower.

Modern Applications

Water treatment, sterilization, petroleum refining, dairy processing, and biochemical processing are just a few of the ways microfiltration is used today. Because it relies on a physical means of separation (the membrane) instead of a chemical one, microfiltration can accomplish both filtration and disinfection in a single step, making it an efficient, cost-effective option. Microfiltration is one of the most widely used methods of removing undesirable particles from industrial fluids.

M.W. Watermark is proud to be an official distributor of the Porex® Tubular Membrane Module™.

These tubular modules are designed to fit new and existing tubular membrane filtration systems.

The superior strength of these microfiltration modules allows higher operating and backwash pressures for a higher flux and reduced system footprint.

Microfiltration - M.W. Watermark/Porex® Tubular Membrane Module™ - 37 Tubular Module
37 Tubular Module
Microfiltration - M.W. Watermark/Porex® Tubular Membrane Module™ - TMF 10 Tubular Module
TMF 10 Tubular Module
Microfiltration - M.W. Watermark/Porex® Tubular Membrane Module™ - TMF 4 Tubular Module Capture
TMF 4 Tubular Module

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Understanding the Basics of Microfiltration