Membrane fouling is a major challenge in water and wastewater treatment. Recent observations that ozone mitigates membrane fouling during filtration of secondary effluent prompted this study into the impact of preozonation on membrane fouling caused by biogenic colloids. The focus of this study was on liposomes, synthetic vesicles composed of (phospho)lipid bilayers, which are representative of the diverse cellular vesicles present in all biologically impacted waters. The overarching hypothesis was that these biologically produced, nonrigid or "soft" colloids (e.g., vesicles) present in wastewater give rise to unique fouling behavior that can be mitigated by preozonation. Using dead-end ultrafiltration (UF) and batch ozonation tests, the key findings of this study were (1) liposomes fouled UF membranes faster (4-13 times membrane cake resistance (RC) per mgC filtered) than polysaccharides, fatty acids, and NOM on a DOC-normalized basis; (2) based on the estimated carbon distribution of secondary effluent, liposome-like biogenic nanomaterials could be responsible for 20-60% of fouling during UF; and (3) preozonation reduces liposomal fouling during UF, likely due to the disruption of the liposome structure through cleavage of the fatty acid tails at carbon-carbon double bonds.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)7349-7356
Number of pages8
JournalEnvironmental Science and Technology
Issue number13
StatePublished - Jul 1 2014

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Chemistry
  • Environmental Chemistry


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