Biofouling Potential Reductions Using a Membrane Hybrid System as a Pre-treatment to Seawater Reverse Osmosis.
Biofouling on reverse osmosis (RO) membranes is the most serious problem which affects desalination process efficiency and increases operation cost. The biofouling cannot be effectively removed by the conventional pre-treatment traditionally used in desalination plants. Hybrid membrane systems coupling the adsorption and/or coagulation with low-pressure membranes can be a sustainable pre-treatment in reducing membrane fouling and at the same time improving the feed water quality to the seawater reverse osmosis. The addition of powder activated carbon (PAC) of 1.5g/L into submerged membrane system could help to remove significant amount of both hydrophobic compounds (81.4%) and hydrophilic compounds (73.3%). When this submerged membrane adsorption hybrid system (SMAHS) was combined with FeCl(3) coagulation of 0.5mg of Fe(3+)/L, dissolved organic carbon removal efficiency was excellent even with lower dose of PAC (0.5g/L). Detailed microbial studies conducted with the SMAHS and the submerged membrane coagulation-adsorption hybrid system (SMCAHS) showed that these hybrid systems can significantly remove the total bacteria which contain also live cells. As a result, microbial adenosine triphosphate (ATP) as well as total ATP concentrations in treated seawater and foulants was considerably decreased. The bacteria number in feed water prior to RO reduced from 5.10E(+06) cells/mL to 3.10E(+03) cells/mL and 9.30E(+03) cells/mL after SMAHS and SMCAHS were applied as pre-treatment, respectively. These led to a significant reduction of assimilable organic carbon (AOC) by 10.1μg/L acetate-C when SMCAHS was used as a pre-treatment after 45-h RO operation. In this study, AOC method was modified to measure the growth of bacteria in seawater by using the Pseudomonas P.60 strain.