The increase of Natural Organic Matter (NOM) in natural water sources, partly caused by progressing climate change issues, is a growing concern for drinking water production. In recent years, membrane technology like Reverse Osmosis (RO) or Nanofiltration (NF) has been successfully applied as a robust solution for NOM removal to produce potable water. However, coagulation/flocculation pre-treatment, combined with Microfiltration (MF) ceramic membrane filtration is nowadays seen as an alternative, less-energy-consuming membrane process for NOM removal. In this study different coagulants have been used under varying coagulation/flocculation conditions to investigate the respective impact on membrane filtration performance. Three alternative coagulation/flocculation configurations were compared. It is shown that NOM was efficiently removed independently on the chosen configuration or coagulant type. Similar and low membrane fouling rates were observed for all tests. Residual metal concentration was found to be the limiting permeate quality parameter, which limits the options of operating conditions. Furthermore, the compact inline pipe flocculator configuration has the potential of designing more compact full-scale units, using less space compared to conventional sand filtration units or even membrane filtration plants using classical tank coagulation/flocculation configurations.
Keywords: ceramic membranes, coagulation, drinking water, flocculation, microfiltration, natural organic matter