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Prevention of UF membrane fouling in drinking water treatment by addition of H2O2 during membrane backwashing

Yu, Wenzheng, Graham, Nigel, Liu, Ting
Water research 2019 v.149 pp. 394-405
adsorption, coagulation, drinking water treatment, fouling, hydrogen peroxide, hydrophilicity, hydrophobicity, organic matter, polysaccharides, thermoplastics, ultrafiltration
Although conventional coagulation pre-treatment can mitigate the fouling of ultrafiltration (UF) membrane when treating raw waters, it is insufficient to restrict the development of irreversible fouling and reversible fouling to a low level. In this paper we demonstrate that the intermittent addition of H2O2 into the membrane tank during backwash events (after coagulation pre-treatment) successfully prevented the development of any significant membrane fouling. Laboratory-scale tests were undertaken using two membrane systems operated in parallel over 60 days, one serving as a reference coagulation-ultrafiltration (CUF) process, and the other receiving the H2O2 (CUF-H2O2), with a decreasing dose in three successive phases: 10, 5 and 2 mg/L. The results showed that the addition of H2O2 (via a separate dosing tube) during a 1 min backwash process (at 30 min intervals) reduced the growth of bacteria in the membrane tank, and the associated concentrations of soluble microbial products (SMP, including protein and polysaccharide). This resulted in a much reduced cake layer, which contained significantly less high MW organic matter (>50%), such as EPS, thereby improving the interaction between particles in the cake layer and/or particles and the membrane surface. There was also less organic matter, of all MW fractions, adsorbed in the membrane pores of the CUF-H2O2 system. The addition of H2O2 in the membrane tank appeared to alter the nature of the organic matter with a conversion of hydrophobic to hydrophilic fractions, which induced less organics adsorption within the hydrophobic PVDF membrane pores, and a reduced bonding ability for particles. There was no physico-chemical evidence of any deterioration of the membrane from exposure to H2O2, which indicates the feasibility of applying this novel method of fouling control for full-scale UF based water treatment processes.