Testing of 3D Printed Turbulence Promoters for Membrane Filtration
Membrane filtration process can be intensified by using static mixers inside tubular membranes. Most of commercial static mixers are optimized for mixing fluids, not for membrane filtration. We have developed new turbulence promoter geometries designed for intensification of permeate flux and retention without significant pressure drop along the membrane. In previous experiments, we used metallic turbulence promoters, but in this work, FDM 3D printing technology was used to create these improved geometries, which are new in membrane filtration and they have the same geometry as existing metallic versions. New 3D printed objects were tested with filtration of stable oil-in-water emulsion. Our experiments proved that 3D printed static mixers might be as effective as metallic versions. The effect on initial flux and retention of oil was very similar. Pressure drop along membrane was slightly higher (but significantly lower from pressure drop along the membrane resulted by commercial static mixers, designed only for mixing fluids). Higher pressure drop may be the result of rougher surface due the layer-technology of 3D printing. This negative effect can be reduced by using a smaller nozzle (which will produce smaller layers) or smoothing the surface. PLA is material easier for printing, but from these two materials, PETG is a better choice due its higher operating temperature and better water-resist properties too.