Cyanobacterial blooms in the lagoons of sewage treatment plants can severely impact the performance of membrane plants treating the effluent. This paper investigates the impact of Microcystis aeruginosa in a secondary effluent on the microfiltration filterability and cleaning of the membrane. Alum coagulation and dissolved air flotation (DAF) were investigated to remove the algae and so enhance the volume of effluent processed, and their influence on reversible and irreversible fouling. Degree of fouling due to the algal components was found to be in decreasing order of algal cells, algal organic matter and extracellular organic matter. Alum coagulation with 5 mg L−1 as Al3 +  led to a substantial increase in permeate volume, an increase in dissolved organic carbon removal, and a foulant layer which protected the membrane from internal fouling but which was hydraulically removable resulting in full flux recovery. Pre-treatment by DAF or 1.5 μm filtration following alum coagulation enhanced the flux rate and permeate volume but exposed the membrane to internal irreversible fouling.

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