Membrane fouling due to dynamic particle size changes in the aerated hybrid PAC–MF system


To quantify the effect of dynamic particle size changes and degradation and accumulation of suspended solids (SS) in influents to reactors on membrane fouling frequency in hybrid powder-activated carbon (PAC)–microfiltration (MF) reactors, we operated a PAC–MF system (hollow-fiber module) for more than five months to purify river water before and after pretreatment by a biofilter. The transmembrane pressure, backwashing pressure, resistance to filtration, and SS accumulation and degradation during these dynamic changes were evaluated. The initial dose of PAC was 40 g/L of the reactor and no additional PAC was added during this continuous operational period. The presence of PAC reduced the membrane resistance to filtration even at the end of filtration period when the number of particles in the smallest range (>1.0–3.6 μm) was the highest measured by the flow cytometer and microscopy image analysis. This resistance was reduced further when the river water was biofiltered prior to membrane filtration. This real-time study demonstrates that over time PAC and other particles coming into the reactors through the influents degrade and/or become smaller because of the turbulence caused by continuous aeration below the MF membrane fibers. The number of particles in the reactors with diameters less than 10 μm increased with time, increasing the fouling frequency; however, the presence of PAC further reduced the particle enhanced fouling. The presence of PAC also increased SS degradation by up to 10%. The increased number of bacteria inside the PAC–MF systems did not contribute to the number of membrane fouling. Even though the particle sizes inside the reactors became smaller with time, the gradual increase in net accumulation of SS was also an important factor controlling the performance of the PAC–MF system.




Khan MT, Takizawa S, Lewandowski Z, Jones WL, Camper AK, Katayama H, Kurisu F, Ohgaki S, "Membrane fouling due to dynamic particle size changes in the aerated hybrid PAC–MF system," Journal of Membrane Science, April 2011 371(1-2):99–107
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