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Efficient control of membrane fouling in MF by removal of biopolymers: Comparison of various pretreatments

Kimura, Katsuki, Oki, Yasumitsu
Water research 2017 v.115 pp. 172-179
activated carbon, biopolymers, coagulation, drinking water, fouling, hydrophilicity, ion exchange, microfiltration, pH, ultrafiltration
In recent studies on membrane fouling in microfiltration (MF) and ultrafiltration (UF) for drinking water production, hydrophilic macromolecular organics referred to as biopolymers have been shown to be major players in the fouling. In this study, various pretreatments were compared to maximize removal of biopolymers and to control membrane fouling efficiently. Multiple water samples were collected from different drinking water sources and were used in this study. Coagulation using polyaluminum chloride (PACl) was carried out under conditions of different dosages and different pHs and was also carried out in combination with the use of powdered activated carbon (PAC) or magnetic ion exchange (MIEX®) resin. The efficiency of removal of biopolymers was highest by the combination of MIEX® and coagulation regardless of the type of sample. Efficient removal of biopolymers achieved by the combination of MIEX® and coagulation led to efficient control of membrane fouling in MF, which was confirmed by bench-scale filtration tests conducted under a constant flux of 62.5 LMH using commercially available hollow-fiber membranes. Enhanced coagulation with increased coagulant dosage or acidic coagulation (pH = 6) also exhibited good removal of biopolymers in some cases and led to control of fouling. In contrast, the combination of PAC and coagulation sometimes caused more rapid evolution of fouling by forming cake layers on the membrane surface. Results of bench-scale tests showed that the concentration of biopolymers in the feed water correlated well with the degree of physically irreversible fouling, which was dominant in this study. The strong correlation was shown with multiple water samples treated by various pretreatments, demonstrating that biopolymer concentration in feed water is a good index for fouling studies.