Fluid flow and fouling mechanisms are examined with a three-dimensional simulation of the tortuous, verisimilar geometry of an α-alumina microfilter. Reconstruction of the three-dimensional geometry was accomplished from two-dimensional cross-sectional cuts, obtained from a focused ion beam. A wall collision model and a particle trapping model are developed for the investigation of fouling mechanisms. The reconstructed geometry and the two models were used in computational fluid dynamics to simulate metalworking colloidal particles travelling through and trapping in the tortuous pore paths of a microfilter. Results reveal sharp flux decline initiating from partial pore blocking and subdued flux decline finalizing in cake layer development with steady-state flow. This flow behavior is in agreement with experimental data from earlier studies. The inclusion of the wall collision model and particle trapping model enabled the revelation of cake layer development as a fouling mechanism.

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