Main content area

Towards a better hydraulic cleaning strategy for ultrafiltration membrane fouling by humic acid: Effect of backwash water composition

Chang, Haiqing, Liang, Heng, Qu, Fangshu, Ma, Jun, Ren, Nanqi, Li, Guibai
Journal of environmental sciences (China) 2016 v.43 pp. 177-186
calcium, calcium chloride, cleaning, fouling, humic acids, hydrochemistry, ion exchange, sodium, sodium chloride, surface tension, ultrafiltration, water treatment
As a routine measurement to alleviate membrane fouling, hydraulic cleaning is of great significance for the steady operation of ultrafiltration (UF) systems in water treatment processes. In this work, a comparative study was performed to investigate the effects of the composition of backwash water on the hydraulic cleaning performance of UF membranes fouled by humic acid (HA). Various types of backwash water, including UF permeate, Milli-Q water, NaCl solution, CaCl2 solution and HA solution, were compared in terms of hydraulically irreversible fouling index, total surface tension and residual HA. The results indicated that Milli-Q water backwash was superior to UF permeate backwash in cleaning HA-fouled membranes, and the backwash water containing Na⁺ or HA outperformed Milli-Q water in alleviating HA fouling. On the contrary, the presence of Ca²⁺ in backwash water significantly decreased the backwash efficiency. Moreover, Ca²⁺ played an important role in foulant removal, and the residual HA content closely related to the residual Ca²⁺ content. Mechanism analysis suggested that the backwash process may involve fouling layer swelling, ion exchange, electric double layer release and competitive complexation. Ion exchange and competitive complexation played significant roles in the efficient hydraulic cleaning associated with Na⁺ and HA, respectively.