Water treatment using microfiltration (MF)/ultrafiltration (UF) membranes is gaining in popularity all over the world but the problem of membrane fouling needs to be addressed. In this study, the influence of calcium on irreversible fouling in MF/UF membrane filtering natural organic matter (NOM) was investigated on the basis of a series of bench-scale filtration tests. Two types of feed water, solution of commercially available humic acid and surface water used for drinking water source, were filtered with four different MF/UF membranes. It was found that the influence of calcium on the evolution of irreversible fouling would differ depending on the feed water characteristics. Calcium facilitated the aggregation of small molecules with hydrophobic nature contained in commercially available humic acid and the aggregate probably plugged the micropores, resulting in severe irreversible fouling. The effect of calcium was not obvious in the case of the surface water used in this study. This result implies that the use of commercial humic acid for the examination of membrane fouling would be inappropriate.

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