Impact of effluent organic matter on low-pressure membrane fouling in tertiary treatment

C. Ayache, Marc Pidou, Jean-Philippe Croue, Jérôme Labanowski, Yvan Poussade, Annie Tazi-Pain, Jurg R. Keller, Wolfgang Gernjak

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

62 Scopus citations


This study aims at comparing low-pressure membrane fouling obtained with two different secondary effluents at bench and pilot-scale based on the determination of two fouling indices: the total fouling index (TFI) and the hydraulically irreversible fouling index (HIFI). The main objective was to investigate if simpler and less costly bench-scale experimentation can substitute for pilot-scale trials when assessing the fouling potential of secondary effluent in large scale membrane filtration plants producing recycled water. Absolute values for specific flux and total fouling index for the bench-scale system were higher than those determined from pilot-scale, nevertheless a statistically significant correlation (r2 = 0.63, α = 0.1) was obtained for the total fouling index at both scales. On the contrary no such correlation was found for the hydraulically irreversible fouling index. Advanced water characterization tools such as excitation-emission matrix fluorescence spectroscopy (EEM) and liquid chromatography with organic carbon detection (LC-OCD) were used for the characterization of foulants. On the basis of statistical analysis, biopolymers and humic substances were found to be the major contribution to total fouling (r2 = 0.95 and r2 = 0.88, respectively). Adsorption of the low molecular weight neutral compounds to the membrane was attributed to hydraulically irreversible fouling (r2 = 0.67). © 2013 Elsevier Ltd.
Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)2633-2642
Number of pages10
JournalWater Research
Issue number8
StatePublished - May 2013

Bibliographical note

KAUST Repository Item: Exported on 2020-10-01
Acknowledgements: The authors want to specifically acknowledge Veolia Environnement Research & Innovation and Seqwater for funding received through the joint "Water Recycling Research Program" with the University of Queensland and the Australian Government Department of Industry, Innovation, Science, Research and Tertiary Education for funding obtained through the FAST program (FR10025). The authors want to particularly thank Dr. Alice Antony from the University of New South Wales for performing LC-OCD analyses. The authors also would like to acknowledge Unitywater and Allconnex Water for their support by hosting the pilot trials.

ASJC Scopus subject areas

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


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