Discharge waters from activated sludge processes in the pulp and paper industry and from a municipal wastewater treatment plant were filtered with various nanofiltration (NF) and low pressure reverse osmosis (RO) membranes. The purpose was to study flux, retention, and permeate quality after membrane filtration by using a high shear (CR-250/2) filter. The suitability of the achieved permeates for reuse at the industrial site is also discussed. The NF permeate was practically free from colour and organic compounds but contained significant amount of inorganic compounds e.g. chloride ions, especially when a high amount of sulphate containing discharge waters were filtered, in which case a low pressure RO membrane was needed to successfully remove monovalent anions. Organic compounds were almost completely retained by NF and RO membranes and organic carbon in the permeate was less than 10 mg/dm3 on average. The achieved permeate can easily be reused in paper production. Nanofiltration has a significantly higher flux and also a lower fouling tendency than reverse osmosis but it passes through monovalent ions when there is a high sulphate concentration in the water. Therefore, RO might be needed in such cases to produce excellent process water.

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