Nanofiltration for the removal of algal metabolites and the effects of fouling

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Nanofiltration (NF) has been shown to be an effective way of removing organic micropollutants from drinking water due to its size exclusion properties. A rapid bench scale membrane test unit was utilised to trial six NF membranes to remove the algal metabolites, microcystin, cylindrospermopsin, 2-methylisoborneol (MIB) and geosmin (GSM). Membrane fouling due to the algal metabolites was observed for both charged and neutral metabolites. MIB and GSM were removed effectively by low molecular weight cut-off (MWCO) membranes but less effectively by a higher MWCO membrane. Removal of MIB and GSM by the higher MWCO membrane was improved as the membrane fouled. Microcystin was initially removed to above 90% by tight NF membranes but fouling of several membranes caused decreased percent removals over time. Tight NF membranes afforded removals of 90–100% for cylindrospermopsin, while removal by the higher MWCO membrane was lower but improved with time due to fouling.

Keywords: cylindrospermopsin, fouling, geosmin, 2-methylisoborneol, microcystin, nanofiltration

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