Community Research and Development Information Service - CORDIS

New approaches to preventing membrane fouling for drinking water supply

An EU team established an exchange programme with China, which investigated biological aspects of ultrafiltration membrane fouling. Use of novel pre-treatment methods, such as ozone with a manganese-dioxide coating, achieved encouraging results.
New approaches to preventing membrane fouling for drinking water supply
Application of membrane filtration for treatment of drinking water has been increasing in recent years. Yet, the membranes can be subject to blockage (‘fouling’) by biologically produced material, making suppression of bacterial growth important to membrane filtration.

The EU-funded WATERULTRAFILTRATION (Novel approaches for enhancing the treatment of drinking water by ultrafiltration and evaluating the mechanisms at nano-scale) project established an exchange fellowship. The EU partner hosted one Chinese expert for two years. The team investigated and improved ultrafiltration membrane performance for drinking water supply, focusing on bacterial minimisation and physical separation from the membrane surface, and their associated cell products.

Early investigations covered the causes and treatment of fouling. Details included chemical pretreatment with iron compounds, use of a sand layer and the blockage role of sludge crystallisation.

Subsequent work examined optimal use of ozone in a submerged membrane tank, combined use of ozone with a manganese-dioxide coating and magnetic ion exchange material, also in combination with ozone treatment. Finally, the team considered ultraviolet irradiation.

Most of the studied techniques reduced bacterial growth, and associated soluble organic substances, and thus reduced fouling. Use of ozone in combination with the manganese-dioxide coating proved particularly effective. The technology may have application in the full-scale treatment of polluted waters.

Research yielded 11 published scientific research papers, with a further 6 either submitted or in preparation. Team members also gave presentations at several conferences, and exchanged knowledge via visits to other institutions and through internal seminars.

The project's new approaches to the prevention of bio-fouling of ultrafiltration membranes may mean more effective and reliable water treatment plants for drinking water supply.

Related information


Membrane, fouling, ultrafiltration, ozone, manganese-dioxide, drinking water, bacterial growth
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