Multiple dynamic Al-based floc layers on ultrafiltration membrane surfaces for humic acid and reservoir water fouling reduction

Baiwen Ma, Wenjiang Li, Ruiping Liu*, Gang Liu, Jingqiu Sun, Huijuan Liu, Jiuhui Qu, Walter van der Meer

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

28 Citations (Scopus)


The integration of adsorbents with ultrafiltration (UF) membranes is a promising method for alleviating membrane fouling and reducing land use. However, adsorbents typically are only injected into the membrane tank once, resulting in a single dynamic protection layer and low removal efficiency over long-term operation. In addition, the granular adsorbents used can cause membrane surface damage. To overcome these disadvantages, we injected inexpensive and loose aluminum (Al)-based flocs directly into a membrane tank with bottom aeration in the presence of humic acid (HA) or raw water taken from the Miyun Reservoir (Beijing, China). Results showed that the flocs were well suspended in the membrane tank, and multiple dynamic floc protection layers were formed (sandwich-like) on the membrane surface with multiple batch injections. Higher frequency floc injections resulted in better floc utilization efficiency and less severe membrane fouling. With continuous injection, acid solutions demonstrated better performance in removing HA molecules, especially those with small molecular weight, and in alleviating membrane fouling compared with the use of high aeration rate or polyacrylamide injection. This was attributed to the small particle size, large specific surface area, and high zeta potential of the flocs. Additionally, excellent UF membrane performance was exhibited by reservoir water with continuous injection and acid solution. Based on the outstanding UF membrane performance, this innovative integrated filtration with loose Al-based flocs has great application potential for water treatment.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)291-300
Number of pages10
JournalWater research
Publication statusPublished - 1 Aug 2018


  • Al-based flocs
  • Fouling reduction
  • Humic acid and reservoir water
  • Multiple dynamic layers
  • Ultrafiltration membrane
  • n/a OA procedure


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