A review of in situ real-time monitoring techniques for membrane fouling in the biotechnology, biorefinery and food sectors

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


Pressure-driven membrane processes are often used for the separation and purification of organic compounds originating from biomass. However, membrane fouling remains a challenge as these bio-based streams have a very complex composition and comprise a high fouling tendency. Conventional, the fouling is monitored based on either a decrease in flux or an increase in pressure over time. Those conventional techniques provide no information on the location, composition or amount of fouling. As fouling is often cumulative, it will be detected as a loss of performance. Once fouling becomes irreversible, it is often not possible to clean the membrane without chemicals and the filtration/separation process has to be stopped eventually. In situ real-time monitoring of membrane fouling could provide dynamic information on the development of fouling allowing optimization of the process. This paper reviews the state of the art in in situ monitoring techniques that could be applied to membrane processes in the biotechnology, biorefinery and food sectors and briefly reflects on the current awareness of in situ monitoring techniques among experienced industrial users of membrane processes. The physical principles as well as the strengths and weaknesses are addressed, as well as potentially and promising techniques are identified.


External organisations
  • Rovira i Virgili University (URV)
  • Lappeenranta University Of Technology (LUT)
Research areas and keywords

Subject classification (UKÄ) – MANDATORY

  • Chemical Process Engineering
  • Food Engineering


  • Pressure-driven membrane processes, Organic fouling, Proteins, Polysaccharides, Online monitoring
Original languageEnglish
Article number117221
Number of pages26
JournalJournal of Membrane Science
Publication statusPublished - 2019 Oct 15
Publication categoryResearch