Evaluation of effluent organic matter fouling in ultrafiltration treatment using advanced organic characterisation techniques
Journal article, 2011
Membrane fouling remains an operational challenge in the ultrafiltration (UF) membrane treatment of wastewater effluent and research is on-going to improve understanding of the organic character of foulants. Two advanced organic characterisation techniques that have potential to lend insight into membrane fouling are size exclusion chromatography with organic carbon, UV254 and nitrogen detection (LC-OCD) and fluorescence excitation-emission matrix (EEM) spectroscopy. In this study, UF treatment was undertaken for five tertiary wastewater effluents. The total hydraulic resistance was determined as well as that contributed by foulant layers fractionated by rinsing, backwashing and chemically desorbing. Organic characterisation for UF feed samples, permeates and each foulant layer was then performed using LC-OCD and FEEM spectroscopy with the aim of improving understanding of the character of foulants present in effluent organic matter (EfOM) and to determine the potential for the use of FEEM spectroscopy as a foulant indicator in such systems. It was determined that the biopolymer fraction was most significantly reduced on UF treatment, as anticipated due to its high molecular size. This was supported by the observation that the majority of the foulant layer comprised predominantly protein-enriched biopolymers (38-60% of total foulant layer DOC) that could be removed by rinsing. The resistance attributed to rinsing was directly related to the combined DOC concentration associated with proteins and low molecular weight neutral compounds as defined by LC-OCD analysis. Furthermore, tyrosine-like fluorescence intensity (λex/em=250/304nm) of both the rinsing solutions and UF feed samples showed good correlation with associated hydraulic resistance for EfOM originating from domestic wastewater, suggesting that fluorescence has potential to be used as a foulant indicator for these systems. © 2011 Elsevier B.V.
Size exclusion chromatography