Due to the rapid population growth in Egypt, providing safe drinking water is becoming an ongoing challenge especially in rural scattered communities. It became more crucial than ever to find innovative and affordable solutions to purify water and reduce water-borne diseases. Ultrafiltration and micro-filtration membranes has been successful in large, centralized plants and is currently one of the popular solutions to provide high quality product water. However, using those membrane systems in rural areas is challenged by several parameters; among which are; the absence of skilled workers, stable energy sources and availability of chemicals. The goal of this thesis is to study the application of electrically enhanced gravity-driven membranes to enhance productivity and reduce fouling.

The main phenomenon upon which gravity-driven membranes (GDM) rely is flux stabilization. Studies have indicated that GDM membranes can be used to treat raw water in low-head applications using a static head of 0.4 – 1.5 m. It can also be used to produce high quality water for prolonged periods (~6 months) at a flux of 4-10 lmh with no pre-treatment or maintenance. Studies have shown that this can be linked to biological processes that take place on the membrane surface which creates cavities and channels that reduce the resistance of the fouling layer. On the other hand, application of electric field to membrane systems have been used in different areas such as removal of biopolymers, emerging contaminants, and organic matter with significant enhancements to the performance of those membranes.

Two setups were constructed, one with UF membranes coupled with electrodes and the second one was the control setup without the electrodes. Both setups were operated side by side using the same raw water. Flux, TOC, and turbidity were measured for both setups to quantify the enhancements to the performance of the membranes. Membranes with 50, 100, 150 and 500 kDa were used with different voltages and application patterns to study trends and significant parameters

The results showed enhanced flux ranging from 11.6% to 41.8% with different Molecular Weight Cut-Offs (MWCOs) and application patterns compared to the control setup. It was also noticed the removal of TOC and turbidity was generally higher and ranged between 2.8% to 29.4% and 2.5% to 10.2% respectively.

As mentioned earlier, establishing large treatment plants in rural and scattered communities can be challenging. This setup has a promising potential to be used in such communities as a source for safe sustainable drinking water. The objective of this research is to study the performance enhancement associated with the coupling of electro-filtration with gravity-filtration. The study will also attempt to quantify the increase in flux, TOC and turbidity removal and comparing it with a control setup (with no electric field).

Further studies and investigations need to be performed with varying other parameters and configurations. Using the same setup in a water treatment plant and comparing effluent quality can help better understand the mechanisms of the enhancements and better estimate the effects of varying raw water quality.


School of Sciences and Engineering


Environmental Engineering Program

Degree Name

MS in Environmental Engineering

Graduation Date

Winter 2-15-2023

Submission Date


First Advisor

Ahmed Elgendy

Committee Member 1

Salah El Haggar

Committee Member 2

Tarek Ismail Sabry

Committee Member 3

Ibrahim Abotaleb


83 p.

Document Type

Master's Thesis

Institutional Review Board (IRB) Approval

Not necessary for this item