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Environ Sci Technol. 2009 May 15;43(10):3878-84.

Assessing the performance of biological filtration as pretreatment to low pressure membranes for drinking water.

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Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering, University of Waterloo, 200 University Avenue West, Ontario, Canada.


Although the use of ultrafiltration membranes in drinking water treatment is increasing, fouling remains a major challenge. The objective of this study was to evaluate rapid biological filtration (without coagulant addition) as a pretreatmentto reduce fouling. Surface water was first passed through a pilot scale roughing filter followed by two parallel anthracite/sand biofilters having different contact times, before being fed to the ultrafiltration membrane. As a chemical-free pretreatment, this novel application of biofiltration removes biopolymers (polysaccharides and proteins) that are the most important component of organic matter for fouling, as well as removing particulate matter. Biopolymer removal was influenced by contact time and temperature. The biofilter with the longer contact time led to greater reductions in both hydraulically reversible and irreversible fouling. The extent of hydraulically reversible fouling was related to the membrane influent biopolymer concentration, but the level of hydraulically irreversible fouling was not, indicating that the composition of the biopolymer fraction may have been important. Biofiltration as a simple and robust pretreatment may be particularly suited for small drinking water systems.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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