In this study, a Taguchi experimental design methodology was used to determine the importance of process parameters influencing the ultrafiltration (UF) of oil-in-water emulsions. Four parameters including pH (5–11), oil concentration (φ) (0.5–3% (v/v)), temperature (T) (25–45°C) and trans-membrane pressure (TMP) (1–5 bar) were studied at three levels. The highest flux was used as optimization criterion. In order to reduce the number of experiments, a Taguchi method was applied. Analysis of variance (ANOVA) was used to determine the most significant parameters affecting the optimization criterion.
Filtration experiments were performed in a cross-flow operation at a total recycle condition in a laboratory-scale plant. The ceramic UF membrane with a pore size of 50 nm was employed in a tubular module with an active area of 0,418 m2. We used water-soluble cutting oil mixed with water as a model oil-in-water emulsion. During the experiment, the drop size and zeta potential distributions were evaluated.
The optimum conditions for UF providing the highest flux were found at TMP = 5 bar, pH = 7, and φ = 0.5 v/v%. The pH of emulsion had the highest impact on COD retention. The results of this study could be used as a guideline for operating UF systems with ceramic membranes at optimal conditions.