Honors Theses

Date of Award


Document Type

Undergraduate Thesis


Chemical Engineering

First Advisor

Alexander Lopez

Relational Format



The global water crisis is a major problem in our developing world due to the increasing growth of our global population, the depletion of natural water resources, and the continuing contamination of existing water resources as a result of industrialization. Membrane separation is a potential solution for these issues. Electrodialysis (ED) is a separation process which employs membranes to separate inorganic and organic substances. This study investigated how different fouling agents influenced membrane surface characteristic and separation efficiency within an electrodialysis system. While applicable for waste water, this study focuses on model salt water solutions with various fouling agents added to study various fouling mechanisms. Results indicated that sodium alginate creates a clear gel on the membrane surface, sodium hydroxide minimally decreases the separation efficiency, and bovine serum albumin has a faster separation time. The major implications of this study are that sodium alginate in an ED system impedes ion diffusion and decreases the separation efficiency, the increased amount of hydroxide ions in the solution from sodium hydroxide increases the pH, and its minimal effect means that the membrane separation is not in part effected by change in pH levels. The final implication is that bovine serum while having a faster separation time, increases the power used, and more investigation is needed to understand how this complex protein affects the surface of the unmodified membranes.



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