Membrane fouling by natural organic matter (NOM), namely by humic substances (HS), is a major problem in water treatment for drinking water production using membrane processes. Membrane fouling is dependent on membrane morphology like pore size and on water characteristics namely NOM nature. This work addresses the evaluation of the efficiency of ultrafiltration (UF) and Coagulation/Flocculation/UF performance in terms of permeation fluxes and HS removal, of the water from Tagus River (Valada). The operation of coagulation with chitosan was evaluated as a pretreatment for minimization of membrane fouling. UF experiments were carried out in flat cells of 13.2×10−4 m2 of membrane surface area and at transmembrane pressures from 1 to 4 bar. Five cellulose acetate membranes were laboratory made to cover a wide range of molecular weight cut-off (MWCO): 2,300, 11,000, 28,000, 60,000 and 75,000 Da. Severe fouling is observed for the membranes with the highest cut-off. In the permeation experiments of raw water, coagulation prior to membrane filtration led to a significant improvement of the permeation performance of the membranes with the highest MWCO due to the particles and colloidal matter removal.

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