Articles | Volume 4, issue 1
Drink. Water Eng. Sci., 4, 71–82, 2011
Drink. Water Eng. Sci., 4, 71–82, 2011

  21 Dec 2011

21 Dec 2011

Effect of fouling on removal of trace organic compounds by nanofiltration

S. Hajibabania1, A. Verliefde2,3, J. E. Drewes4, L. D. Nghiem5, J. McDonald6, S. Khan6, and P. Le-Clech1 S. Hajibabania et al.
  • 1UNESCO Centre for Membrane Science and Technology, School of Chemical Engineering, The University of New South Wales, Sydney 2052, Australia
  • 2Particle and Interfacial Technology Group, Faculty of Bioscience Engineering, Ghent University, Coupure Links 653, 9000 Gent, Belgium
  • 3Delft University of Technology, Faculty of Civil Engineering and Geosciences, Department of Sanitary Engineering, P.O. Box 5048, 2600 GA Delft, The Netherlands
  • 4Environmental Science and Engineering Division, Colorado School of Mines, Golden, CO 80401-1887, USA
  • 5School of Civil Mining and Environmental Engineering, The University of Wollongong, Wollongong, NSW 2522, Australia
  • 6Water Research Centre, The University of New South Wales, Sydney 2052, Australia

Abstract. The fate of chemical of concern is not yet fully understood during treatment of impaired waters. The aim of this paper is to assess the impact of different organic-based fouling layers on the removal of a large range of trace organics. Both model and real water samples (mixed with trace organic contaminants at environmental concentration of 2 μg l−1) were used to simulate fouling in nanofiltration under controlled environment. The new and fouled membranes were systematically characterised for surface charge, hydrophobicity and roughness. It was observed that fouling generally reduced the membrane surface charge; however, the alterations of the membrane hydrophobicity and surface roughness were dependent on the foulants composition. The rejection of charged trace organics was observed to be improved due to the increased electrostatic repulsion by fouled membranes and the adsorption of the trace organic chemicals onto organic matters. On the other hand, the removal of nonionic compounds decreased when fouling occurred, due to the presence of cake enhanced concentration polarization. The fouling layer structure was found to play an important role in the rejection of the trace organic compounds.