Influence of flocculation and adsorption as pretreatment on the fouling of ultrafiltration and nanofiltration membranes: Application with biologically treated sewage effluent

Publication Type:
Journal Article
Environmental Science and Technology, 2005, 39 (10), pp. 3864 - 3871
Issue Date:
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Membrane fouling is a critical limitation on the application of membranes to wastewater reuse. This work aims to understand the fouling phenomenon which occurs in ultrafiltration (UF; 17500 molecular weight cutoff (MWCO)) and nanofiltration (NF; 250 MWCO) membranes, with and without pretreatment. For this purpose, the molecular weight (MW) distribution of the organics has been used as a parameter to characterize the influent, the permeate, and the foulant on the membrane surface. The variation of foulant concentration on the membrane due to pretreatment of the influent by flocculation and/or adsorption was investigated in detail. With the UF membrane, the peak of the MW distribution of organics in the permeate depended on the pretreatment; for example, the weight-averaged MW (Mw) of 675 without pretreatment shifted down to 314 with pretreatment. In the case of the NF membrane, the Mw of organics in the permeate was 478 (without pretreatment) and 310 (with flocculation followed by adsorption). The Mw of the organics in the foulant on the membrane surface was 513 (UF) and 192 (NF) without pretreatment and 351 (UF) and 183 (NF) after pretreatment with flocculation followed by adsorption, respectively. Without the pretreatment, the foulant concentration was higher on both membranes. The difference was more significant on the UF membrane than on the NF membrane. For both membranes, the flocculation-and-then- adsorption pretreatment proved very effective. © 2005 American Chemical Society.
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