Water research

Investigation of severe UF membrane fouling induced by three marine algal species.

PMID 26874470


Reducing membrane fouling caused by seawater algal bloom is a challenge for regions of the world where most of their freshwater is produced by seawater desalination. This study aims to compare ultrafiltration (UF) fouling potential of three ubiquitous marine algal species cultures (i.e., Skeletonema costatum-SKC, Tetraselmis sp.-TET, and Hymenomonas sp.-HYM) sampled at different phases of growth. Results showed that flux reduction and irreversible fouling were more severe during the decline phase as compared to the exponential phase, for all species. SKC and TET were responsible for substantial irreversible fouling but their impact was significantly lower than HYM. The development of a transparent gel layer surrounding the cell during the HYM growth and accumulating in water is certainly responsible for the more severe observed fouling. Chemical backwash with a standard chlorine solution did not recover any membrane permeability. For TET and HYM, the Hydraulically Irreversible Fouling Index (HIFI) was correlated to their biopolymer content but this correlation is specific for each species. Solution pre-filtration through a 1.2 μm membrane proved that cells and particulate algal organic matter (p-AOM) considerably contribute to fouling, especially for HYM for which the HIFI was reduced by a factor of 82.3.

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