Review: Ultrasonic characterization of membranes

Elmira Kujundzic, Alan R. Greenberg, Michael Peterson

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

11 Scopus citations


This review describes the use of ultrasonic reflectometry (UR) for characterizing membranes and membrane processes. A growing body of literature documents the capabilities of UR as a versatile nondestructive, noninvasive, real-time, and low-cost methodology that can provide important information about a wide range of membrane-based separations. A compact but thorough explanation of the ultrasonic measurement concepts relevant for use of the methodology for membrane applications is first presented. This section is followed by a description of the many studies in which UR has been employed for characterization of membrane structure, formation, compaction, and inorganic and organic membrane fouling, the latter in both real-time and post-mortem modes. Examples of recent work that incorporates the innovative use of UR for scaling in nanofiltration and reverse osmosis applications as well as results that suggest the potential of the ultrasonic slow wave to monitor pore closure in early-stage fouling are then highlighted. UR is then compared with other techniques for fouling detection so that the advantages and limitations of UR can be placed in proper perspective. Finally, valuable future directions for the incorporation of UR in membrane research, development, and practice are considered.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1217-1249
Number of pages33
JournalDesalination and Water Treatment
Issue number7-9
StatePublished - 2014

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
The authors thank all of those who have contributed over the years to the growing body of work that involves the use of ultrasonics for membrane applications. We are pleased to acknowledge that many of these applications were initiated and supported by the NSF Industry/University Cooperative Research Center for Membrane Science, Engineering and Technology Center at the University of Colorado-Boulder (IIP 1034720) and its predecessors.


  • Membrane characterization
  • Membrane fouling
  • Real-time studies
  • Ultrasonic reflectometry

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Water Science and Technology
  • Ocean Engineering
  • Pollution


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