Send to

Choose Destination
Water Res. 2007 Apr;41(8):1713-22. Epub 2007 Mar 7.

Interplay of different NOM fouling mechanisms during ultrafiltration for drinking water production.

Author information

Swiss Federal Institute of Aquatic Science and Technology (Eawag), 8600 Duebendorf, Switzerland.


Ultrafiltration is an emerging technology for drinking water production, but a main challenge remains the lack of understanding about fouling. This paper investigates the impact of molecular interactions between different natural organic matter (NOM) compounds on ultrafiltration fouling mechanisms. We performed dead-end filtration experiments with individual and mixed humic acid and alginate (polysaccharide). Alginate showed detrimental, but mostly reversible, flux decline and high solute retention. Our results indicate that this was caused by pore blocking transformed into cake building and weak molecular foulant-membrane and foulant-foulant interactions. In the presence of calcium, aggravated fouling was observed, related to complexation of alginate and its subsequently induced gel formation. With humic acid, more severe irreversible fouling occurred due to humic acid adsorption. Minor adsorption of alginate onto the membrane was also observed, which probably caused the substantial irreversible flux decline. The fouling characteristics in the mixtures reflected a combination of the individual humic acid and alginate experiments and we conclude, that the individual fouling mechanisms mutually influence each other. A model elucidates this interplay of the individual fouling mechanisms via hydrophobic and electrostatic interactions. In our study such an interplay resulted in an alginate cake, or gel in the presence of calcium, which is relatively irreversibly adsorbed onto the membrane by humic acid associations. This study shows the importance of mutual influences between various foulants for improved understanding of fouling phenomena. Furthermore it shows that substances with a minor individual influence might have a large impact in mixed systems such as natural water.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

Supplemental Content

Full text links

Icon for Elsevier Science
Loading ...
Support Center