Soft acidic waters are often treated for drinking water purposes by using limestone filters to attain chemical equilibrium. The present study investigated the process parameters of a relatively new process combination in which powdered calcium carbonate (CaCO3) was added prior to an ultrafiltration (UF). In order to reach the targeted pH value (≥7.8), dosing concentration, type of material and retention time were evaluated in pilot-scale experiments. The deacidification followed the same kinetics as for limestone filtration and yielded similar filtrate characteristics with dosing concentrations of 20 and 40 g/L CaCO3. No significant increase in transmembrane pressure was observed during the operation of a pilot-scale UF module at low flux (34 L m−2 h−1). Critical flux was determined in a lab scale to evaluate the potential impact of CaCO3 particles on the UF operation. Stepping-flux experiments revealed the presence of fouling only at high-dosing concentrations, resulting in a critical flux of 55 L m−2 h−1. At a higher flux, a CaCO3-fouling layer was formed, which decreased the membrane's permeability by 20% over 5 h. Considering that effective air-enhanced backwash and acidic chemical cleanings will be implemented in large-scale applications, the investigated process combination promises to be an appropriate treatment technology for turbid and soft acidic waters.

  • Dosing of powdered CaCO3 as a deacidification alternative followed by ultrafiltration.

  • Absence of CaCO3 fouling at a low-flux UF operation with air-enhanced backwash.

  • Determination of critical flux for the filtration of CaCO3 suspensions.

  • Presence of irreversible fouling at high CaCO3 concentration and operating flux.

Graphical Abstract

Graphical Abstract
Graphical Abstract
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