Cost factors and chemical pretreatment effects in the membrane filtration of waters containing natural organic matter
Fane, Anthony G.
This paper compares the membrane processes available for water treatment. Membranes have the advantage of currently decreasing capital cost, a relatively small footprint compared to conventional treatment, generally a reduction in chemicals usage and comparably low maintenance requirements. Three membrane processes applicable to water treatment, micro- (MF), ultra- (UF), and nanofiltration (NF), are compared in terms of intrinsic rejection, variation of rejection due to membrane fouling and increase in rejection by ferric chloride pretreatment. Twelve different membranes are compared on the basis of their membrane pore size which was calculated from their molecular weight cut-off. A pore size of <6 nm is required to achieve substantial (>50%) organics removal. For a fouled membrane this pore size is about 11 nm. UV rejection is higher than DOC rejection. Coagulation pretreatment allows a higher rejection of organics by MF and UF and the cut-off criterion due to initial membrane pore size is no longer valid. A water quality parameter (WQP) is introduced which describes the product water quality achieved as a function of colloid, DOC and cation rejection. The relationship between log (pore size) and WQP is linear. Estimation of membrane costs as a function of WQP suggests that open UF is superior to MF (similar cost at higher WQP) and NF is superior to tight UF. Chemical pretreatment could compensate for the difference between MF and UF. However, when considering chemicals and energy costs, it appears that a process operated at a higher energy is cheaper at a guaranteed product quality (less dependent on organic type). This argument is further supported by environmental issues of chemicals usage, as energy may be provided from renewable sources.