Enhancement of membrane surface characteristics to improve membrane performance and durability in the treatment of municipal MBR effluent
Kasongo Wa Kasongo, Godwill
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Fresh, clean water has always been critical for the world's social development. Supply of water can be reinforced through recycling and reuse; and secondary treatment of municipal wastewater effluent with a membrane bioreactor (MBR) followed by a reverse osmosis (RO) process, has emerged as a crucial treatment process for water reuse. However, fouling of RO membranes in such process is unavoidable. This leads to poor performance, increase in operational cost and degradation of the membrane material, which reduces the membrane life span. Various researches have been conducted to provide an understanding of the mechanism of fouling, and methods have been developed to minimize it. In this research, the effect of surface modification to minimise fouling on a thin film composite polyamide RO membrane was investigated. This study was divided into three parts, namely: membrane modification, biofouling and filtration using RO. Two modifying agents, PVA and DMAEMA, were used as grafting solutions. Escherichia coli (E. coli) were used as the biofoulant to study the ant-biofouling properties of the membranes. A make-up synthetic MBR secondary effluent feed was used in a bench scale RO process. During the membrane modification process, the membrane was treated using two different approaches. Firstly, the covalent attachment of polyvinyl alcohol (PVA) through Glutaraldehyde (GA) onto the surface and secondly the redox initiated grafting of dimethyl amino ethyl methacrylate (DMAEMA PVA and DMAEMA grafting solutions were applied at four different concentrations). The PVA and DMAEMA modifying agents were successfully grafted onto the membrane top layers and were confirmed by the functional groups, present, using the Attenuated Total Reflectance–Fourier Transform Infrared spectroscopy (ATR-FTIR) spectra. The morphology of the membrane surfaces was investigated using Scanning Electron Microscopy (SEM), before and after treatment. SEM analysis showed better membrane structures with PVA grafting compared to DMAEMA.