Biological powdered activated carbon (BPAC) was incorporated with a microfiltration (MF, 0.2 μm pore size) system to remove the refractory organic matter contained in secondary sewage effluent. A synthetic secondary sewage effluent was used as influent in this study, containing both non-biodegradable organic substances (such as humic acid, lignin sulfonate, tannic acid and arabic gum powder) and biodegradable ones. These refractory organic materials were possibly degraded in contact with microorganisms for 20-27 days. Although humic acid and arabic gum were weakly adsorbed on the activated carbon, they could be effectively removed in the BPAC reactor. The TOC removal at a powdered activated carbon (PAC) concentration of 20 g/L was higher than at 0.5-2 g PAC/L (83% and 66-68%, respectively). The higher removal efficiency was due to the increased rejection at the membrane module in which most of the PAC was accumulated. More than 90% of non-biodegradable compounds removal (detected as E280 , UV absorption at 280 nm) occurred in the BPAC reactor. The biological growth parameter b/Y, used in system design, was estimated to be 0.017 d-1. Relatively high permeate flux of 1.88 m/d could be obtained even at higher PAC concentration of 20 g/L.

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