The combination of ultrafiltration (UF) and powdered activated carbon (PAC) has gained in importance over the last 15 years. The aim of applying PAC-UF hybrid processes is to improve the rejection capacity and the performance of membrane processes. In this work the influence of PAC-addition on membrane flux decline and fouling formation was studied with a submerged module using different water matrices. The PACs used were characterized by measurements of the surface area, the particle size distribution and the surface charge to get a better understanding of the observed effects. Results showed that the membrane flux decline was dependent on the applied type of activated carbon. When adding Picachem 8P, the transmembrane pressure (TMP) increased very quickly and the membrane performance was even worse than that without PAC. However, when adding Norit SA-UF under identical filtration conditions, the TMP was stable and the membrane performance was better than that without PAC. The fouling layers of the two PACs applied showed entirely different structures. Therefore the selection of a suitable PAC is a main factor for the overall performance of PAC-UF hybrid systems with submerged membranes.

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