Ceramic Membrane combined with Powdered Activated Carbon (PAC) or Coagulation for Treatment of Impaired Quality Waters

  • Juma Z. Hamad

Student thesis: Doctoral Thesis


Ceramic membranes (CM) are robust membranes attributed with high production, long life span and stability against critical conditions. While capital costs are high, these are partially offset by lower operation and maintenance costs compared to polymeric membranes. Like any other low-pressure membrane (LPM), CM faces problems of fouling, low removal of organic matter and poor removal of trace organic compounds (TOrCs). Current pretreatment approaches that are mainly based on coagulation and adsorption can remove some organic matter but with a low removal of the biopolymers component which is responsible for fouling. Powdered activated carbon (PAC) accompanied with a LPM maintains good removal of TOrCs. However, enhanced removal of TOrCs to higher level is required. Submicron powdered activated carbon (SPAC), obtained after crushing commercial activated carbon into very fine particle, and novel activated carbon (KCU 6) which is characterized with larger pores and high surface area were employed. A pre-coating approach, which provides intimated contact between PAC and contaminants, was adopted for wastewater and (high DOC) surface water treatment. For seawater, in-line coagulation with iron III chloride was adopted. Both SPAC and KCU 6 showed good removal of biopolymers at a dose of 30 mg/L with > 85 % and 90 %, respectively. A dose of 40 mg/L of SPAC and 30 mg/L KCU 6 pre-coats were successful used in controlling membrane fouling. SPAC is suggested to remove biopolymers by physical means and adsorption while KCU 6 removed biopolymers through adsorption. Both KCU 6 and SPAC attained high removal of TOrCs whereas KCU 6 showed outstanding performance. Out of 29 TOrCs investigated, KCU 6 showed > 87 % TOrCs rejection for 28 compounds. In seawater pretreatment, transparent exopolymer particles (TEP) were found to be an important foulant. TEP promoted both reversible and irreversible fouling. TEP are highly electronegative while alumina CM is positively charged which support strong TEP–alumina binding. The influence of TEP fouling was minimized with a low dose of 0.5 – 1 mg/l Fe coagulant. Bacteria were almost completely removed; Silt Density Index (SDI) value was maintained to 2 % per minute and a constant permeate turbidity of 0.05 NTU was achieved.
Date of AwardAug 29 2013
Original languageEnglish (US)
Awarding Institution
  • Biological, Environmental Sciences and Engineering
SupervisorGary Amy (Supervisor)


  • ceramic membrane
  • powdered activated carbon
  • coagulation
  • micropolutants
  • biopolymers
  • TEP

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