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Biological Reactors for Pretreatment of RO Feed Water

Montana State University; Bozeman, MT.
April 2003

Report #79 - Abstract -

Investigators at the Center for Biofilm Engineering proposed a technology to increase the biological stability of water to be further processed by reverse osmosis membranes. It was proposed to reduce membrane fouling by pretreating feed water using biological reactors to remove organic nutrients that support formation of fouling biofilms. The goal of the work was to determine if biological pretreatment can reduce fouling in membrane systems. Specific objectives included:
(1) determine if biological pretreatment using biologically active carbon and iron oxide coated sand as support media will reduce downstream fouling;
(2) determine if chlorination as an oxidation step for feed water will influence downstream fouling;
(3) determine if filtration of feed water will reduce downstream fouling; and
(4) develop evaluation methods of these objectives by developing and testing assays.
The results of this work supported the acceptance of all objectives except the use of chlorination as an oxidation step for the organic amendment. The biological treatment coupled with filtration resulted in the best reduction in downstream fouling as measured by the assays employed. The reduction shown in biofilm cell numbers supported the assumptions made in the cost analysis.


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