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Virus removal by advanced membrane filtration for wastewater reclamation

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Measurements of indigenous and seeded male-specific (MS2) bacteriophages were made in an effort to gain insight into the response of membrane filtration systems to varying virus concentrations and varying flow rates at the Terminal Island Treatment Plant, operated by the City of Los Angeles Bureau of Sanitation. Bacteriophages were seeded into secondary effluent that had been filtered through a trimedia filter. The seeded effluent was then processed by microfiltration (MF) and reverse osmosis (RO) pilot units for which the Department of Water and Power was evaluating effluent water quality parameters in conjunction with a water reclamation project. The samples were assayed for virus. The seeded tests utilized higher concentrations of MS2 viruses and sampled the process streams with higher time resolution than those used by other researchers in comparable experiments. As expected from the physics of RO process, the RO unit reduced the virus concentration below the threshold of detection, but the MF membranes consistently reduced virus concentrations by less than one log unit (order of magnitude). This MF performance differs from most results of similar tests carried out elsewhere, but it was consistently observed, despite substantial variability in the virus removal factor, as revealed by the high time resolution of the measurements. Budgetary limits prevented extending this research to clarify the indications in the data that removal efficiency may be affected by the MF unit's backwash cycle, or the membrane flux, but if these results can be verified, they may provide valuable insight for improved membrane technology and planning for large-scale membrane-based water reclamation.


Document Type: Research Article


Publication date: September 1, 1998

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  • Water Environment Research® (WER®) publishes peer-reviewed research papers, research notes, state-of-the-art and critical reviews on original, fundamental and applied research in all scientific and technical areas related to water quality, pollution control, and management. An annual Literature Review provides a review of published books and articles on water quality topics from the previous year.

    Published as: Sewage Works Journal, 1928 - 1949; Sewage and Industrial Wastes, 1950 - 1959; Journal Water Pollution Control Federation, 1959 - Oct 1989; Research Journal Water Pollution Control Federation, Nov 1989 - 1991; Water Environment Research, 1992 - present.
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