The use of membrane separation technology, such as ultrafiltration (UF) and subsequent reverse osmosis (RO), for purifying different types of low-contaminated wash water of carrots (COD = 1,314 mg/l) and wash water of different kinds of vegetables (COD = 2,280 mg/l) was investigated on a pilot scale to determine its suitability for reuse in the process. In both membrane processes, UF and RO, the permeate flux first decreased with increasing fouling (deposition of organic and inorganic substances on the membrane surface and in its pores). After that the membrane permeability (permeate flux) and selectivity (rejection of COD) remained constant on a stable level in spite of a concentration with a volumetric concentration factor of up to 39. The tests showed that water can be obtained with a quality complying with the German regulations by applying a process combination of UF and RO. It was found that the membranes gave a 5-log reduction for total bacteria, and no coliform bacteria were present in the permeate after RO. Using UF and RO, part of the wastewater can be recovered for reuse in the process if drinking water is used for the last step of vegetable washing.

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