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(chemical engineering)
Separation of colloidal or very fine solid materials by filtration through microporous or semipermeable mediums.
McGraw-Hill Dictionary of Scientific & Technical Terms, 6E, Copyright © 2003 by The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc.
The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.



the forcing of a liquid through a semipermeable membrane, a membrane that allows small molecules and ions to pass but not macromolecules and colloidal particles. The ultrafiltration of solutions containing molecules of high-molecular-weight compounds, unlike the ultrafiltration of sols, is sometimes called molecular filtration. Ultrafiltration may be regarded as dialysis under pressure or as reverse osmosis if the membrane lets only molecules of solvent pass through. In the latter case, often called hyperfiltration, the pressure should exceed the osmotic pressure of the solution.

Membranes for ultrafilters, usually in the form of plates (sheets) or cylindrical holders (“candles”), are primarily made of artificial and synthetic polymers, such as esters of cellulose, and polyamides. Sometimes they are made from microporous inorganic materials and from products of animal origin. The size of particles (molecules) passing through the membrane varies between several microns and hundredths of a micron. The separating capacity of a membrane depends on its structure and physico-chemical properties, as well as on pressure, temperature, the composition of the filtered liquid, and other external factors.

As a method of concentrating, purifying, and fractionating highly dispersed systems and multicomponent solutions, ultrafiltration is widely used in laboratory work, medicine, and industry. For example, it is used to remove ionic and nonionic impurities from water, organic solvents, liquid fuels, and lubricating oils. It is also used to separate into individual components complex mixtures of proteins, alkaloids, and other substances, isolate enzymes, vitamins, and viruses, and sterilize liquids designated for medical and pharmaceutical purposes. In addition, it is used in dispersion analysis and microbiological analysis and to analyze air and water for pollution with industrial and household wastes.


Dytnerskii, Iu. I. Membrannyeprotsessy razdeleniia zhidkikh smesei. Moscow, 1975.


The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.
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