Nanofiltration of natural organic matter: Removal, fouling and the influence of multivalent ions

Andrea Schaefer, A. G. Fane, T. D. Waite

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract / Description of output

The presence of calcium and humic substances or natural organic matter (NOM) in surface waters can cause severe fouling of nanofiltration (NF) membranes. Conditions of fouling were studied using a stainless steel stirred cell of volume 185 mL and a membrane area of 21.2*10-4m2 at a transmembrane pressure of 5 bar. Deposition of organic matter was determined by mass balance in feed and concentrate samples. Electron microscopy and X-ray photoelectron spectroscopy (XPS) were used to study the morphology and composition of the fouling layer. During permeate recycle experiments, which were used for fouling studies, it was found that calcium concentration (as a representative of multivalent ions) and the type of organic play a major role in fouling. The calcium forms complexes with some of the organics and deposits on the membrane surface. Depending on the solution conditions the organic or calcite (on which organics adsorb) precipitate. Factors, which influence the concentration of organics and ions at the membrane surface such as stirring, flux and transmembrane pressure, influenced the deposition of organic matter significantly. Irreversible fouling occurred with all membranes at high calcium concentrations, although the cellulose acetate membrane showed an overall better performance, possibly due to its low salt rejection and smooth surface. IHSS humic acid is the organic which deposits most easily and comparison of UV absorbance and DOC data showed that the fraction which absorbs UV strongest, and is more hydrophobic, deposits preferentially on the membranes. These substances also have the lowest solubility stressing the importance of concentration polarisation effects.
Original languageUndefined/Unknown
Pages (from-to)109-122
Number of pages14
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 1998

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