Pre-coagulation coupled with sponge-membrane filtration for organic matter removal and membrane fouling control during drinking water treatment

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Journal Article
Water Research, 2019, 157 pp. 155 - 166
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© 2019 Elsevier Ltd A new hybrid system was developed in this study for the treatment of drinking water consisting of pre-coagulation using polyaluminium chloride (PACl) and membrane filtration (MF) with sponge cubes acting as biomass carriers (P-SMF). When compared to a conventional MF (CMF) and a MF after coagulation by utilizing PACl (P-MF), better removal of nutrients, UV254 and dissolved organic carbon (DOC) (>65%) was obtained from the P-SMF. The accumulation of biopolymers (including polysaccharides and proteins), humic substances, hydrophilic organics, and other small molecular weight (MW) organic matter in the CMF led to the most severe membrane fouling coupled with the highest pore blocking and cake resistance. Pre-coagulation was ineffective in eliminating small MW and hydrophilic organic matter. Conversely, the larger MW organics (i.e. biopolymers and humic substances), small MW organics and hydrophilic organic compounds could be removed in significantly larger quantities in the P-SMF by PACl coagulation. This was achieved via adsorption and the biodegradation by attached biomass on these sponges and by the suspended sludge. Further analyses of the microbial community indicated that the combined addition of PACl and sponges generated a high enrichment of Zoolgloea, Amaricoccus and Reyranella leading to the reduction of biopolymers, and Flexibacter and Sphingobium were linked to the degradation of humic substances. Moreover, some members of Alphaproteobacteria in the P-SMF may be responsible for the removal of low MW organics. These results suggest that the pre-coagulation process coupled with adding sponge in the MF system is a promising technology for mitigating membrane fouling.
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