The use of integrated membrane systems (a train of treatment processes incorporating one or more membranes) is increasing globally as the technology is very effective for the production of high quality drinking water. In this investigation a laboratory scale integrated membrane system (IMS) featuring coagulation, powdered activated carbon (PAC) and ultrafiltration (UF) was investigated for the removal of an Australian strain of the cyanobacteria Anabaena circinalis and the cyanotoxin it produced. Three coagulants were compared, aluminium chlorohydrate (ACH), aluminium sulphate (alum) and an engineered aluminium coagulant referred to as high performance aluminium chlorohydrate (HPAC). PAC (Acticarb PS1000) was tested to determine adsorption of extracellular saxitoxin. Removal of A. circinalis cells was 100% by UF alone and the removal of cells prior to the membrane by coagulation reduced fouling attributed to algogenic organic material. Alum was the least efficient coagulant for removal of cells while ACH and HPAC were similar. Saxitoxin removal reached a maximum of 80% using ACH and PAC. The UF-IMS was challenged using a natural bloom of A. circinalis that occurred in the Myponga Reservoir in South Australia.
Keywords: Anabaena circinalis, coagulation, cyanobacteria, powdered activated carbon (PAC), ultrafiltration