Impact of PAC Fines in Fouling of Polymeric and Ceramic Low-Pressure Membranes for Drinking Water Treatment

Membranes (Basel). 2016 Jul 7;6(3):38. doi: 10.3390/membranes6030038.


This study assessed the issue of membrane fouling in a Hybrid Membrane Process (HMP) due to the export of powdered activated carbon (PAC) fines from a pretreatment contactor. Two parallel pilot-scale ceramic and polymeric membranes were studied. Reversible and irreversible foulings were measured following three cleaning procedures: Physical backwashing (BW), chemically enhanced backwashing (CEB) and Clean-in-Place (CIP). The impacts on fouling of membrane type, operation flux increase and the presence/absence of the PAC pretreatment were investigated. Membranes without pretreatment were operated in parallel as a control. In addition, CIP washwaters samples were analyzed to measure organic and inorganic foulants removed from the membranes. It was observed that for the polymeric membranes, fouling generally increased with the presence of the PAC pretreatment because of the export of fines. On the contrary, the ceramic membranes were not significantly impacted by their presence. The analysis of CIP washwaters showed a greater total organic carbon (TOC) content on membranes with a PAC pretreatment while no similar conclusion could be made for inorganic foulants.

Keywords: ceramic membrane; hybrid membrane process; low-pressure membrane; membrane fouling; powdered activated carbon.