Engineered biofiltration for ultrafiltration fouling mitigation and disinfection by-product precursor control

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A pilot-scale study was conducted to evaluate the impact of several biofiltration enhancement strategies in terms of organic removal to reduce disinfection by-product (DBP) formation potential and mitigate ultrafiltration (UF) fouling. Strategies included nutrient addition (nitrogen and phosphorus) to optimize metabolic degradation of organics, use of hydrogen peroxide (H2O2, peroxide) to improve filter run times, and the application of in-line aluminum sulphate (alum) for biopolymer removal. The impact of media type on performance was also examined (anthracite versus granular activated carbon (GAC)). Passive biofiltration (without enhancement) reduced dissolved organic carbon (∼5%), biopolymers (∼20%), and trihalomethane and haloacetic acid precursors (∼20% and ∼12%, respectively) while mitigating UF irreversible fouling (∼60%). Nutrient addition was not observed to enhance biological performance. Addition of 0.5 mg/L hydrogen peroxide decreased head loss by up to 45% without affecting organic removal; however at a dosage of 1 mg/L, it negatively impacted both UF fouling and DBP precursor removal. In-line alum addition prior to biofiltration (<0.5 mg/L) improved UF fouling control by up to 40%, without sacrificing head loss. Overall, GAC provided superior performance when compared to anthracite.

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