Ultrafiltration (UF) is a variety of membrane filtration in which forces like pressure or concentration gradients lead to a separation through a semipermeable membrane. Suspended solids and solutes of high molecular weight are retained in the so-called retentate, while water and low molecular weight solutes pass through the membrane in the permeate (filtrate). This separation process is used in industry and research for purifying and concentrating macromolecular (103 – 106 Da) solutions, especially protein solutions.
Ultrafiltration is used to treat surface water, groundwater and wastewater as either a primary treatment or as a pretreatment to nanofiltration and/or reverse osmosis.
Industries such as chemical and pharmaceutical manufacturing, food and beverage processing, and waste water treatment, employ ultrafiltration in order to recycle flow or add value to later products. Blood dialysis also utilizes ultrafiltration.
In many cases UF is used for pre filtration in reverse osmosis (RO) plants to protect the RO membranes.
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