Natural organic matter (NOM) fouling continues to be the major barrier to efficient application of ultrafiltration (UF) in drinking water treatment. Algogenic organic matter (AOM), the main contributor to total NOM levels in raw waters characterised by elevated algae levels, is currently the subject of much investigation. In this study, the effect of AOM on fouling of ultrafiltration and the effectiveness of magnetic ion exchange resin (MIEX®) pre-treatment for AOM removal and membrane fouling control was evaluated. The results showed that, the main species of algae in raw water were Chlorella vulgaris, which accounted for 80% of total algae. AOM was predominantly hydrophilic (50% or more) with a low SUVA (1.7 Lm−1 mg−1). Coagulation alone could not remove AOM effectively (less than 20%), however, when combined with magnetic ion exchange resin pre-treatment, more than 60% of AOM was be removed; pre-treatment followed by coagulation was observed to be very effective in controlling membrane fouling by AOM. The application of magnetic ion exchange resin technology at a bed volume treatment rate (BVTR) of 800 was observed to effectively eliminate fouling of UF membrane. Careful analyses of the molecular weight (MW) distribution of AOM and UV absorbance of treated water revealed that the effectiveness in membrane fouling control was the result of the changes in AOM molecular characteristics in treated water, namely a change in MW due to the preferential removal of high molecular proteins by coagulation and magnetic ion exchange resin pre-treatment. The results demonstrate that magnetic ion exchange resin followed by coagulation might be a new membrane pre-treatment option for UF membrane fouling control.

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