To determine the removal efficiency of ultrafiltration (UF) membranes for nano-particles in the size range of viruses the state of the art uses challenge tests with virus-spiked water. This work focuses on bench-scale and semi-technical scale experiments. Different experimental parameters influencing the removal efficiency of the tested UF membrane modules were analyzed and evaluated for bench- and semi-technical scale experiments. Organic matter in the water matrix highly influenced the removal of the tested bacteriophages MS2 and phiX174. Less membrane fouling (low ΔTMP) led to a reduced phage reduction. Increased flux positively affected phage removal in natural waters. The tested bacteriophages MS2 and phiX174 revealed different removal properties. MS2, which is widely used as a model organism to determine virus removal efficiencies of membranes, mostly showed a better removal than phiX174 for the natural water qualities tested. It seems that MS2 is possibly a less conservative surrogate for human enteric virus removal than phiX174. In bench-scale experiments log removal values (LRV) for MS2 of 2.5–6.0 and of 2.5–4.5 for phiX174 were obtained for the examined range of parameters. Phage removal obtained with differently fabricated semi-technical modules was quite variable for comparable parameter settings, indicating that module fabrication can lead to differing results. Potting temperature and module size were identified as influencing factors. In conclusion, careful attention has to be paid to the choice of experimental settings and module potting when using bench-scale or semi-technical scale experiments for UF membrane challenge tests.

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