Contribution of effluent organic matter (EfOM) to ultrafiltration (UF) membrane fouling: Isolation, characterization, and fouling effect of EfOM fractions

Xing Zheng, Muhammad Khan, Jean-Philippe Croue

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123 Scopus citations


EfOM has been regarded as a major organic foulant resulting in UF membrane fouling in wastewater reclamation. To investigate fouling potential of different EfOM fractions, the present study isolated EfOM into hydrophobic neutrals (HPO-N), colloids, hydrophobic acids (HPO-A), transphilic neutrals and acids (TPI), and hydrophilics (HPI), and tested their fouling effect in both salt solution and pure water during ultrafiltration (UF). Major functional groups and chemical structure of the isolates were identified using Fourier transform infrared spectroscopy (FT-IR) and solid-state carbon nuclear magnetic resonance (13C NMR) analysis. The influence of the isolation process on the properties of EfOM fractions was minor because the raw and reconstituted secondary effluents were found similar with respect to UV absorbance, molecular size distribution, and fluorescence character. In membrane filtration tests, unified membrane fouling index (UMFI) and hydraulic resistance were used to quantify irreversible fouling potential of different water samples. Results show that under similar DOC level in feed water, colloids present much more irreversible fouling than other fractions. The fouling effect of the isolates is related to their size, chemical properties, and solution chemistry. Further investigations have identified that the interaction between colloids and other fractions also influences the performance of colloids in fouling phenomena. © 2014 Elsevier Ltd.
Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)414-424
Number of pages11
JournalWater Research
StatePublished - Nov 2014

Bibliographical note

KAUST Repository Item: Exported on 2020-10-01
Acknowledgements: The authors thank the project "Control of Emerging Contaminants for a Sustainable Reuse of Wastewater: Role of Effluent Organic Matter" funded by King Abdullah University of Science and Technology. The technical support of Emmanuelle Filloux (Universite de poitiers, France), Guodong Li (Workshop in KAUST), Dr. Tahir Yapici (core lab in KAUST), Dr. Victor Yangali, Tong Zhan and Ahamed Kasmi in Water Desalination and Reuse Center is highly appreciated. Helpful discussion with Dr. Haofei Guo from Alfa Laval Nakskov A/S and Dr. Allan Hjarbaek Holm from Grundfos A/S are also appreciated.

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Water Science and Technology
  • Pollution
  • Ecological Modeling
  • Waste Management and Disposal


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