Reversible and irreversible low-pressure membrane foulants in drinking water treatment: Identification by principal component analysis of fluorescence EEM and mitigation by biofiltration pretreatment

Sigrid Peldszus, Cynthia Hallé, Ramila H. Peiris, Mohamed Hamouda, Xiaohui Jin, Raymond L. Legge, Hector Budman, Christine Moresoli, Peter M. Huck

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

147 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

With the increased use of membranes in drinking water treatment, fouling - particularly the hydraulically irreversible type - remains the main operating issue that hinders performance and increases operational costs. The main challenge in assessing fouling potential of feed water is to accurately detect and quantify feed water constituents responsible for membrane fouling. Utilizing fluorescence excitation-emission matrices (EEM), protein-like substances, humic and fulvic acids, and particulate/colloidal matter can be detected with high sensitivity in surface waters. The application of principal component analysis to fluorescence EEMs allowed estimation of the impact of surface water constituents on reversible and irreversible membrane fouling. This technique was applied to experimental data from a two year bench-scale study that included thirteen experiments investigating the fouling potential of Grand River water (Ontario, Canada) and the effect of biofiltration pre-treatment on the level of foulants during ultrafiltration (UF). Results showed that, although the content of protein-like substances in this membrane feed water (= biofiltered natural water) was much lower than commonly found in wastewater applications, the content of protein-like substances was still highly correlated with irreversible fouling of the UF membrane. In addition, there is evidence that protein-like substances and particulate/colloidal matter formed a combined fouling layer, which contributed to both reversible and irreversible fouling. It is suggested that fouling transitions from a reversible to an irreversible regime depending on feed composition and operating time. Direct biofiltration without prior coagulant addition reduced the protein-like content of the membrane feed water which in turn reduced the irreversible fouling potential for UF membranes. Biofilters also decreased reversible fouling, and for both types of fouling higher biofilter contact times were beneficial.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)5161-5170
Number of pages10
JournalWater Research
Volume45
Issue number16
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Oct 15 2011
Externally publishedYes

Keywords

  • Biofiltration
  • Fluorescence excitation emission matrices
  • Fouling control
  • Principal component analysis
  • Protein-like substances
  • Ultrafiltration

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ecological Modelling
  • Water Science and Technology
  • Waste Management and Disposal
  • Pollution

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