Biofiltration pretreatment for reverse osmosis (RO) membrane in a water reclamation system

J. Y. Hu, L. F. Song, S. L. Ong, E. T. Phua, W. J. Ng

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

36 Scopus citations


Biofouling control is considered as a major challenge in operating membrane systems. A lab-scale RO system was setup at a local water reclamation plant to study the feasibility of using biofiltration as a pretreatment process to control the biofouling. The biological activity in the RO system (feed, product, reject streams) was tested using the standard serial dilution plating technique. Operational parameters such as differential pressure (DP) and permeate flowrate of the system were also monitored. Effects of biofilter on AOC and DOC removals were investigated. Biofiltration was found to be a viable way of assimilable organic carbon (AOC) and dissolved organic carbon (DOC) removals, with removal efficiencies of 40-49% and 35-45% at an empty bed contact time (EBCT) of 30 min. It was also found that using the biofiltration as a pretreatment reduced the rate of biofouling. It took only about 72 h for biofouling to have a significant impact on the performance of the RO membrane, when the system was operated without using biofiltration as pretreatment. There was, however, a five times increase in operational length to more than 300 h when biofiltration was used. This study presented the suitability of the biofilter as an economical and simple way of biofouling control for RO membrane.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)127-133
Number of pages7
Issue number1
StatePublished - Mar 2005


  • AOC
  • Biofiltration
  • Biofouling
  • DOC
  • Differential pressure
  • Permeate flowrate


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