We evaluated the removal of virus (bacteriophage Qβ) after hydraulic backwashing and the effects of reversible and irreversible membrane fouling on virus removal by a coagulation–microfiltration (MF) system. The rate of virus removal in the coagulation–MF system was low at the beginning of filtration but increased with filtration time, owing to the accumulation of foulant on the membrane. The rate of virus removal thereafter remained high, even after hydraulic backwashing of the membrane to remove reversible membrane foulant. The presence of irreversible, rather than reversible, membrane foulant contributed to the increase in virus removal rate observed at the beginning of filtration. The irreversible membrane fouling maintained a high virus removal rate even after hydraulic backwashing. Moreover, irreversible fouling of the membrane during long-term filtration (1 month) improved virus removal in the coagulation–MF system, and the membrane excluded virus particles even in the absence of coagulation pretreatment. Therefore, the accumulation of irreversible membrane foulant with filtration time played an important role in virus removal by the coagulation–MF system.

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