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Effect of Alum Addition on the Performance of Submerged Membranes for Wastewater Treatment

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The effect of aluminum sulfate (alum) addition on membrane performance was investigated, with a particular focus on membrane fouling. During initial operation, alum was added and the performance monitored. After terminating alum addition, the transmembrane pressure (TMP), which is indicative of membrane resistance to flow or fouling, increased. Accompanying the increase in TMP was an increase in the organic nonsettleable fraction (colloidal + dissolved) content of the mixed liquor and deterioration of permeate quality and floc strength. Permeate polysaccharide concentrations increased significantly, suggesting a preferential binding of solution polysaccharides by alum. Upon reinitiating alum addition, the TMP only partially recovered, indicating some irreversible fouling, while mixed liquor nonsettleable organic material, permeate quality, and floc strength returned to initial levels. These results suggest that direct alum addition to membrane bioreactors can improve membrane performance by reducing the organic fouling material and improving floc structure and strength. It appears that bulk liquid polysaccharides may contribute to irreversible membrane fouling, and this fraction can be efficiently controlled through the alum addition.
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Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: 2004-11-01

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  • Water Environment Research (WER) is published monthly, including an annual Literature Review. A subscription to WER includes access to the latest content back to 1992, as well as access to fast track articles. An individual subscription is valid for 12 months from month of purchase.

    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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