The application of ultrafiltration to effluent of waste water treatment plants (WWTP-effluent) is getting increasing attention. However, many experiments show a rapid decrease in flux urging frequent and intensive cleaning. In order to understand the mechanisms of the occurring fouling process, various filtration and cleaning experiments were performed, giving information about the filterability of the feedwater (F) and the reversibility of the occurring fouling layer (R). Short-term fluxes are mainly determined by the filterability, while both the filterability and the reversibility greatly affect long-term fluxes. The objective of this research is to measure the filterability of WWTP-effluent and the reversibility of the occurring fouling layer in ultrafiltration of wwtp-effluent with and without pre-treatment.

The results of the filtration experiments show a rapid decrease of flux resulting in a low value for the filterability, which also decreases during progressing filtration. The filterability is mainly related to the volume of treated water. Pre-treatment of the WWTP-effluent by in-line coagulation or by deep-bed filtration has little influence on the filterability. However, results on the reversibility show an improvement of the reversibility by pre-treatment. Both filterability of the WWTP-effluent and reversibility of the fouling layer are found to be independent of the applied flux.

As to the applied cleaning methods, the back flush is far more effective than the forward flush even if combined with air. In all experiments the remaining fouling layer still has to be removed by an intensive chemical cleaning. This research indicates the very importance of reducing the formation of an irreversible, non-removable fouling layer.

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