Fouling characteristics of reverse osmosis (RO) membrane with chemical coagulation and microfiltration (MF) pre-treatment were investigated at full-scale leachate treatment systems. In chemical coagulation pre-treatment, solid separation from stabilized leachate was performed by ferric chloride coagulation followed by sand filtration. Meanwhile, MF pre-treatment and the RO system utilized direct filtration using a 0.03 µm membrane without chemical addition. MF pre-treatment yielded better pollutant removals in terms of organics and nitrogen. The study on effect of pre-treatment on RO membrane fouling revealed that accumulated foulant on the RO membrane in MF pre-treatment was significantly lower than that of chemical coagulation. Nevertheless, NaOH cleaning of the fouled RO membrane after chemical coagulation pre-treatment could better recover its permeate flux, thus suggesting that the formation of a loose-structure cake layer by chemical coagulation pre-treatment could allow effective penetration of chemical cleaning and detachment of foulant layer from the membrane surface.

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