Microfiltration usually serves as a pre-treatment for other separation processes such as ultrafiltration, and a post-treatment for granular media filtration. The typical particle size used for microfiltration ranges from about 0.1 to 10 µm. In terms of approximate molecular weight these membranes can separate macromolecules generally less than 100,000 g/mol.
Perhaps the most prominent use of microfiltration membranes pertains to the treatment of potable water supplies. The membranes are a key step in the primary disinfection of the uptake water stream. The filters used in the microfiltration process are specially designed to prevent particles such as, sediment, algae, protozoa or large bacteria from passing through a specially designed filter. More microscopic, atomic or ionic materials such as water (H2O), monovalent species such as Sodium (Na+) or Chloride (Cl-) ions, dissolved or natural organic matter, and small colloids and viruses will still be able to pass through the filter.
The most abundant use of microfiltration membranes are in the water, beverage and bio-processing industries.