The natural organic matter (NOM) removal efficiency and regeneration behavior of ion-exchange filters with promoted biological activity (BIEX) was compared to operation where biological activity was suppressed (i.e. abiotic conditions). The impact of BIEX pre-treatment on fouling in subsequent ultrafiltration was also investigated. Biological operation enhanced NOM removal by approximately 50% due to an additional degradation of smaller humic substances, building blocks and low molecular weight acids. Promotion of biological activity significantly increased the time to breakthrough of the filters and, therefore, is expected to lower the regeneration frequency as well as the amount of regenerate of which to dispose. Pre-treatment using BIEX filters resulted in a significant decrease in total and irreversible fouling during subsequent ultrafiltration. The decrease was attributed to the effective removal of medium and low molecular weight NOM fractions. The results indicate that BIEX filtration is a robust, affordable and easy-to-operate pre-treatment approach to minimize fouling in ultrafiltration systems and enhance the quality of the produced permeate.

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