A pilot scale biofilter pretreatment - microfiltration system (BF-MF) was operated to investigate the effect of biofilter treatment in fouling reduction of microfiltration. Biofiltration was expected to reduce the membrane fouling by removal of turbidity and metal oxides. The hollow-fiber MF module with a nominal pore size of 0.1 μm and a surface area of 8m2 was submerged in a filtration tank and microfiltration was operated at a constant flux of 0.5 m/d. Biofiltration using polypropylene pellets was performed at a high filtration velocity of 320 m/d. Two experimental setups composed of MF and BF/MF, i.e. without and with biofilter pretreatment, were compared. Throughout the experimental period of 9 months, biofilter pretreatment was effective to reduce the membrane fouling, which was proved by the result of time variations of trans-membrane pressure and backwash conditions. The turbidity removal rate by biofiltration varied between 40% to 80% due to the periodic washing for biofilter contactor and raw water turbidity. In addition to turbidity, metals, especially Mn, Fe and Al were removed effectively with average removal rates of 89.2%, 67.8% and 64.9%, respectively. Further analysis of foulants on the used membranes revealed that turbidity and metal removal by biofiltration was the major effect of biofiltration pretreatment against microfiltration fouling.

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