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Characterization of Permanent Fouling on the Surfaces of UV Lamps Used for Wastewater Disinfection

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A significant problem with UV disinfection of wastewater is the accumulation of fouling materials at sleeve-water interfaces. It has been shown that automated chemical and/or mechanical cleaning can remove most fouling materials satisfactorily. However, permanent foulants, which cannot be removed completely by typical cleaning operations, always remain on the quartz sleeves. These permanent foulants reduce UV transmittance, in turn reducing disinfecting effectiveness. This research investigated the origins, formation, and composition of permanent fouling. Four instrumental analyses were used: atomic force microscope (AFM), X-ray fluorescence (XRF), scanning electron microscope combined with energy dispersive X-ray microanalysis (SEM/EDX), and sleeve UV transmittance (SUVT). It appeared that permanent foulants were trapped initially by microscale holes and peaks on fresh sleeve surfaces. Based on the topography and roughness measurements from the AFM, after long-term regular chemical and mechanical cleaning, the wipers of cleaning systems damage sleeve surfaces, creating scratches or holes with larger surface areas. Foulants are trapped more easily, and are attached tightly to the surfaces of these scratches or to each other. The results from XRF and SEM/EDX showed that the main fouling components were aluminum, iron, magnesium, calcium, and phosphorus. These could not be related to wastewater quality. For the specific cases studied, chemical plus mechanical cleaning is more effective in removing foulants and avoiding the accumulation of permanent foulants than mechanical cleaning alone; in most cases, SUVT was higher than 90% after chemical plus mechanical cleaning, whereas mechanical cleaning alone achieved only approximately 30% SUVT after long-term usage.

Keywords: UV disinfection; fouling

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: July 1, 2005

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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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