Influence of floc dynamic protection layer on alleviating ultrafiltration membrane fouling induced by humic substances

Ruijun Wu , Baiwen Ma , Siqi Wu , Bodong Wang , Zenglu Qi , Yaohui Bai , Huijuan Liu , Jiuhui Qu


Received October 01, 2019,Revised , Accepted November 18, 2019, Available online December 09, 2019

Volume 32,2020,Pages 10-19

Cake layer formation is inevitable over time for ultrafiltration (UF) membrane-based drinking water treatment. Although the cake layer is always considered to cause membrane fouling, it can also act as a “dynamic protection layer”, as it further adsorbs pollutants and dramatically reduces their chance of getting to the membrane surface. Here, the UF membrane fouling performance was investigated with pre-deposited loose flocs in the presence of humic acid (HA). The results showed that the floc dynamic protection layer played an important role in removing HA. The higher the solution pH, the more negative the floc charge, resulting in lower HA removal efficiency due to the electrostatic repulsion and large pore size of the floc layer. With decreasing solution pH, a positively charged floc dynamic protection layer was formed, and more HA molecules were adsorbed. The potential reasons were ascribed to the smaller floc size, greater positive charge, and higher roughness of the floc layer. However, similar membrane fouling performance was also observed for the negative and positive floc dynamic protection layers due to their strong looseness characteristics. In addition, the molecular weight (MW) distribution of HA also played an important role in UF membrane fouling behavior. For the small MW HA molecules, the chance of forming a loose cake layer was high with a negatively charged floc dynamic protection layer, while for the large MW HA molecules it was high with a positively charged floc dynamic protection layer. As a result, slight UF membrane fouling was induced.

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