Factors affecting coagulation as a pretreatment to ultrafiltration membranes

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Low pressure membranes can be effective in treating various types of water, but are subject to fouling. In this work, chemical coagulation was studied as a pretreatment to ultrafiltration (UF), with the goal of mitigating fouling while maintaining high permeate water quality. Alum and ferric chloride were evaluated, as well as two polyaluminum chloride (PACl) products of different basicities and compositions. A bench-scale hollow fiber UF unit was developed to study the treatment of raw and pretreated water from two southern Ontario drinking water sources. The four coagulants were compared at optimal dosages, as well as at lower dosages. The roles of mixing and pH conditions were also evaluated. Membrane fouling was evaluated by observing changes in trans-membrane pressure (TMP) over 3-day experiments. Under optimal dose conditions, all four coagulants were able to reduce the rate at which the membrane fouled to varying degrees for each water source. Total organic carbon (TOC) removal by the membrane was also enhanced with coagulation pretreatment as would be expected. Experiments conducted with low coagulant dosages displayed under-dosing and a subsequent increase in membrane fouling. Experiments conducted with modified raw water pH improved both membrane performance and TOC removal, while experiments with modified mixing intensities proved ineffective.

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