IWA Publishing

Monitoring the fate of fluorescing substances recycled in ultrafiltration process backwash water

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Courtesy of IWA Publishing

The fate of fluorescing substances during the recycling of membrane backwash water (MBWW) ahead of coagulation, flocculation and sedimentation (CFS) with ultrafiltration (UF) membranes has been investigated. Bench-scale UF membranes were used to generate MBWW from a CFS-treated surface water containing 21 mg/L dissolved organic carbon (DOC) registering a 0.95 cm–1 UV254 absorbance that had been coagulated with 100 mg/L with polyaluminum chloride. CFS settled water, when processed with UF, produced MBWW containing 9 mg/L DOC registering a 0.25 cm–1 UV254 absorbance. High performance size-exclusion chromatography using UV254 detection demonstrated an analogous UV254 reduction as measured by detector response. However, fluorescence excitation emission spectroscopy revealed that protein-like substances, known to be associated with irreversible fouling, had been concentrated in the MBWW. In order to evaluate recycling operations on overall DOC removal in a CFS-UF process, a blend of 30% MBWW with 70% of raw water was treated, resulting in an overall DOC removal of 73%. However, without MBWW recycle, the CFS-UF process removed less of the influent DOC (63%). This work suggests that MBWW recycle operations should consider possible downstream impacts of concentrated protein-like substances not previously detected, as these substances are suspected to contribute to long-term irreversible UF fouling.

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