Natural organic matter (NOM) is known to be the worst foulant in the membrane processes, but the complexities of NOM make it difficult to determine its effects on membrane fouling. Therefore, simple organic compounds (surrogates for NOM) were used in this research to investigate the fouling mechanisms in ultrafiltration. Previous research on NOM components in membrane processes indicated that polysaccharides formed an important part of the fouling cake. Three polysaccharides (dextran, alginic acid, and polygalacturonic acid) and a smaller carbohydrate (tannic acid) were evaluated for their removal in softening (the treatment process in the City of Austin). Two polysaccharides (dextran and alginic acid) were selected and further investigated for their effects on membrane fouling. The two raw organic waters (4 mg/L C) showed quite different patterns of flux decline indicating different fouling mechanisms. Softening pretreatment was effective to reduce flux decline of both waters. The SEM images of the fouled membrane clearly showed the shapes of deposited foulants. The high resolution results of the XPS spectra showed substantially different spectra of carbon, C(1s), in the membrane fouled by two raw organic waters. The XPS was beneficial in determining the relative composition of each fouling material on the membrane surface.

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