UF of pulp and paper effluent: Membrane fouling-prevention and cleaning
Effluent arriving from the Mondi Kraft paper mill at Piet Retief, South Africa, was filtered through tubular poly(ether sulphone) (PES) ultrafiltration membranes under constant pressure cross-flow conditions. The effluent that was fed into the membranes and permeate produced during filtration were characterised by UV-VIS light-spectroscopy. Substances that absorbed onto membranes during filtration caused changes to the permeability characteristics of the membranes. Changes in membrane performance were monitored by pure-water and product flux (pf) measurements. A colourimetric staining technique was developed to determine the nature of foulants adsorbed onto the membranes. Membrane cleaning solutions were subsequently selected using information obtained from the characterisation studies. In addition, the anti-fouling potential of non-covalently attached coating materials was investigated as a possible membrane pretreatment technique. Results showed that foulants present in the effluent are of phenolic and hydrophobic nature. Increasing the hydrophilic characteristics of membranes prior to filtration could reduce the amount of organic foulants that adsorbed onto the membranes. Membrane pretreatment not only reduced fouling, but also improved the effectiveness of cleaning methods. Membranes were effectively cleaned by a combination of mechanical and chemical cleaning techniques. © 2002 Elsevier Science B.V. All rights reserved.