Influence of biofouling on pharmaceuticals rejection in NF membrane filtration
“The effects of biomass attachment and growth on the surface characteristics and organic micropollutants rejection performance of nanofiltration membranes were investigated in a pilot installation. Biomass growth was induced by dosing of a readily biodegradable carbon source resulting in the formation of a biofouling in the investigated membrane elements. Surface properties and rejection behaviour of a biofouled and virgin membrane were investigated and compared in terms of surface charge, surface energy and hydrophobicity. The last two were accomplished by performing contact angle measurements on fully hydrated membrane surfaces, in order to mimic the operating conditions of a membrane in contact with water. Compared to a virgin membrane, deposition and growth of biofilm did slightly alter the surface charge, which became more negative, and resulted in a higher hydrophilicity of the membrane surface. In addition, the presence of the negatively charged biofilm induced accumulation of positively charged pharmaceuticals within the biomass layer, which probably also hindered back diffusion. This caused a reduction in rejection efficiency of positively charged solutes but did not alter rejection of neutral and negatively charged pharmaceuticals. Pharmaceuticals rejection was found to positively correlate with the specific free energy of interaction between virgin or biofouled membranes and pharmaceuticals dissolved in the water phase. The rejection values obtained with both virgin and biofouled membranes were compared and found in good agreement with the predictions calculated with a solute transport model earlier developed for high pressure filtration processes.”
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(Citaat: Botton, S., Verliefde, A.R.D., et al., – Influence of biofouling on pharmaceuticals rejection in NF membrane filtration – Water Research 46(2012)18, p.5848-5860)