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Microfiltration is a filtration process which removes contaminants from a fluid (liquid & gas) by passage through a microporous membrane. A typical microfiltration membrane pore size range is 0.1 to 10 micrometres (µm). Microfiltration is not fundamentally different from reverse osmosis, ultrafiltration or nanofiltration, except in terms of the size of the molecules it retains.

Developed by Professor Sigmondy University of Goettingen, Germany, in 1935, membrane filters were first commercially produced by Sartorius GmbH a few years later. Membrane filters found immediate application in the field of microbiology and in particular in assessment of safe drinking water. Further development of microfilters in the mid 1970's lead by the FDA's requirement for non-fibre releasing filters to be used in the production of injectable solutions. Microporous membranes are used by the micro-electronics industry as an integral part of water production. Membrane filters are widely used in biotechnology and food and beverage applications where sterile product is required.

Increasingly used in drinking water treatment, it effectively removes major pathogens and contaminants such as Giardia lamblia cysts, Cryptosporidium oocysts, and large bacteria. For this application the filter has to be rated for 0.2 micrometres or less. For mineral and drinking water bottler the most commonly used format is pleated cartridges usually made from Polyethersulfone(PES) media. This media is asymmetric with larger pores being on the out side and smaller pores being on the inside of the filter media.

Microfiltration membranes were first introduced to the municipal water treatment market in 1987 and applied primarily to waters that were relatively easy to treat. These were cold, clear source waters that were susceptible to microbial contamination. Low pressure membranes were selected to remove turbidity spikes and pathogens without chemical conditioning. As low pressure membranes increased in acceptance and popularity, users began to apply the technology to more difficult waters which contained more solids and higher levels of dissolved organics. Some of these waters required chemical pretreatment, including pre-chlorination. These shifts in water quality triggered change in low pressure membrane technology. New products and processes were introduced to deal with higher solids and chemical compatibility.

This article is licensed under the GNU Free Documentation License. It uses material from the Wikipedia article "Microfiltration". A list of authors is available in Wikipedia.
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