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An Evaluation of Fouling Potential and Methods to Control Fouling in Microfiltration Membranes for Secondary Wastewater Effluent

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The use of reclaimed water has become an option to reduce the demand for potable water. In the past, membrane technology has not always been economically feasible for this application due to high energy requirements needed to maintain membrane performance (i.e. flux). An increase in energy requirements and a reduction in throughput are a direct result of membrane fouling because the pressure requirements increase as particulate matter accumulates on the membrane surface. Membrane fouling is dependent on the type of constituents found in the feedstream, therefore there are different methods to reverse these types of fouling. To evaluate and study fouling potential and methods for limiting/reversing membrane fouling for the production of reclaimed water, three plant-scale experiments were conducted at a California wastewater treatment plant using secondary effluent from a high-purity oxygen, activated sludge/secondary clarifier process. The results of the experiments help establish the best methods for limiting/reversing fouling based on operating parameters (i.e. flux), production methods, and membrane configuration.

The first experiment series was used to evaluate the impacts of flux on fouling and determined the effectiveness of backwashing and chemical maintenance washes on a membrane operating under a cross-flow configuration with 10% re-circulation. To determine the best method to limit/reverse fouling on two different membrane process/operating configurations, a second experiment was conducted that evaluated the average permeability decrease between backwashes and maintenance washes. Selected maintenance wash processes were conducted in a third experiment to determine which method was the most effective in permeability recovery (e.g. reducing irreversible fouling).


Document Type: Research Article


Publication date: 2007-10-01

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  • Proceedings of the Water Environment Federation is an archive of papers published in the proceedings of the annual Water Environment Federation® Technical Exhibition and Conference (WEFTEC® ) and specialty conferences held since the year 2000. These proceedings are not peer reviewed.

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