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The Impact of Polymer Addition to MF and RO Performance at an Indirect Potable Reuse Plant

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A pilot test was conducted to assess the impact of polymer on microfiltration (MF) and reverse osmosis (RO) membrane performance. Inclined plate clarification with ferric chloride and polymer addition were used upstream of the membranes for solids, organics, and phosphorus removal. To mitigate the potential adverse impact of the polymer on the downstream membrane processes, an anionic polymer was selected, which has the following benefits compared to cationic polymers traditionally used in this application:

Membrane compatibility: Both the RO and MF membranes have a negative charge, which reduces the likelihood of polymer attachment to the membrane surface.

Antiscalant compatibility: The RO antiscalant has a negative charge, which reduces the likelihood of an adverse reaction between the antiscalant and the anionic polymer.

MF permeability and transmembrane pressure (TMP) were monitored over the piloting period to assess the impact of polymer addition. Normalized permeate flow and normalized differential pressure (per stage) were monitored for the RO system. The effectiveness of chemical cleaning for both membranes was analyzed. These results were compared to MF and RO performance data from operation on tertiary wastewater chemically clarified without polymer use. Pilot results indicate that anionic polymer addition did not negatively impact MF and RO performance. In fact, MF performance may have improved as evidenced by lower TMP and higher permeability during polymer addition.

Keywords: Polymer; clarification; indirect potable reuse; microfiltration; pretreatment; reverse osmosis

Document Type: Research Article


Publication date: January 1, 2010

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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 These proceedings are not peer reviewed.

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