ABSTRACTThe popularity of membrane technology in water treatment has been rising for over last 50 years due to wide range of filtration processes and applications, cost effective production and installation as well as safe and efficient water production. However, the development and improvement of membranes is ongoing due to number of weaknesses. Membrane fouling is a major drawback of membrane application in water and waste water treatment. Mostly caused by natural organic matter (NOM), fouling forms a layer on top of the membrane and blocks pores reducing the water permeation and can be potentially destructive to the membrane structure. The issue of membrane fouling can be addressed during membrane manufacturing, maintenance and operation. In the current study, the graphene-based nanomaterials (GBN) were incorporated in polyvinylidene fluoride (PVDF) to manufacture membranes via the phase-inversion technique. The resulting membranes show significant improvement to the properties of the pure PVDF membranes and their antifouling ability. The addition of GBN enhanced the water permeation by over 79% as a result of increased membrane hydrophilicity. Although this enhancement is beneficial, membrane fouling remained an issue despite the observed improvement. In this study, ozone, which is an effective oxidant, was evaluated as a novel technique for the cleaning of humic acid-fouled membranes. When ozone cleaning was applied to the humic acid-fouled membranes, reestablishment of close to original flux values was observed after just 30 min of cleaning. This statement is supported by SEM images that give an insight into the fouling of the membrane surface after the application of the cleaning methods. The data indicate that ozone is an effective technique for membrane cleaning against NOM-induced fouling.

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