[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Comprehensive studies were conducted on the phenol wastewater ultrafiltration (UF) with the help of various concentrations of cationic Gemini surfactant (N1-dodecyl-N1,N1,N2,N2-tetramethyl-N2-octylethane-1,2-diaminium bromide, CG), conventional cationic surfactant (dodecyl trimethyl ammonium bromide, DTAB), anionic surfactant (sodium dodecyl sulfate, SDS) and nonionic surfactant ((dodecyloxy)polyethoxyethanol, Brij35). A flat sheet module with polyethersulfone (PES) membrane was employed in this investigation. The effects of feed concentration (phenol and surfactant) on the retention of phenol and surfactant, permeate flux and membrane fouling by micelles were evaluated. The distribution coefficient (D), the loading of the micelles (L(m)) and the equilibrium distribution constant (K) were also utilized to estimate the micellar-enhanced ultrafiltration ability for phenol. Scanning electron microscope (SEM), Fourier transform infrared spectrometer with attenuated total reflectance accessory (ATR-FTIR) and mercury porosimeter were applied to analyze membrane surface morphology, membrane material characteristics and membrane fouling for the original and fouled membranes. Based on the above analysis, the performance of the selected Gemini surfactant was proved superior in the following aspects: retention of phenol/surfactant (peak value is 95.8% for phenol retention), permeate flux and membrane fouling with respect to other conventional surfactants possessing equal alkyl chain length. These results demonstrated that CG surfactant with exceptional structure has favorable prospects in the treatment of phenol wastewater by the micellar-enhanced ultrafiltration.