The generation of brine solutions from dense membrane (reverse osmosis, RO or nanofiltration, NF) water reclamation systems has been increasing worldwide, and the lack of cost effective disposal options is becoming a critical water resources management issue. In Singapore, NEWater is the product of a multiple barrier water reclamation process from secondary treated domestic effluent using MF/UF-RO and UV technologies. The RO brine (concentrates) accounts for more than 20% of the total flow treated. To increase the water recovery and treat the RO brine, a CDI based process with BAC as pretreatment was tested. The results show that ion concentrations in CDI product were low except SiO2 when compared with RO feed water. CDI product was passed through a RO and the RO permeate was of better quality including low SiO2 as compared to NEWater quality. It could be beneficial to use a dedicated RO operated at optimum conditions with better performance to recover the water. BAC was able to achieve 15–27% TOC removal of RO brine. CDI had been tested at a water recovery ranging from 71.6 to 92.3%. CDI based RO brine treatment could improve overall water recovery of NEWater production over 90%. It was found that calcium phosphate scaling and organic fouling was the major cause of CDI pressure increase. Ozone disinfection and sodium bisulfite dosing were able to reduce CDI fouling rate. For sustainable operation of CDI organic fouling control and effective organic fouling cleaning should be further studied.
Keywords: biological activated carbon, capacitive deionization, RO brine, RO concentrates