Membrane fouling control by Ca2+ during coagulation–ultrafiltration process for algal-rich water treatment

  • Cong Ma
  • Jingyun Huang
  • Yulan Wang
  • Liang WangEmail author
  • Hongwei Zhang
  • Zhilin RanEmail author
  • Jeffrey R. McCutcheon
Original Paper


Seasonal algal bloom, a water supply issue worldwide, can be efficiently solved by membrane technology. However, membranes typically suffer from serious fouling, which hinders the wide application of this technology. In this study, the feasibility of adding Ca2+ to control membrane fouling in coagulation–membrane treatment of algal-rich water was investigated. According to the results obtained, the normalized membrane flux decreased by a lower extent upon increasing the concentration of Ca2+ from 0 to 10 mmol/L. Simultaneously, the floc particle size increased significantly with the concentration of Ca2+, which leads to a lower hydraulic resistance. The coagulation performance is also enhanced with the concentration of Ca2+, inducing a slight osmotic pressure-induced resistance. The formation of Ca2+ coagulation flocs resulted in a looser, thin, and permeable cake layer on the membrane surface. This cake layer rejected organic pollutants and could be easily removed by physical and chemical cleaning treatments, as revealed by scanning electron microscopy images. The hydraulic irreversible membrane resistance was significantly reduced upon addition of Ca2+. All these findings suggest that the addition of Ca2+ may provide a simple-operation, cost-effective, and environmentally friendly technology for controlling membrane fouling during coagulation–membrane process for algal-rich water treatment.


Algal-rich water Ultrafiltration membrane fouling Coagulation Calcium ion 



The authors gratefully acknowledge the financial support provided by the National Science Foundation of China (Nos. 51508383, 51478314 and 51638011), the Research Fund of the Tianjin Key Laboratory of Aquatic Science and Technology (No. TJKLAST-ZD-2017-03), and the Natural Science Foundation of Tianjin Province (18JCQNJC09000).


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Copyright information

© Springer Nature B.V. 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  • Cong Ma
    • 1
    • 2
    • 3
  • Jingyun Huang
    • 1
  • Yulan Wang
    • 4
  • Liang Wang
    • 1
    Email author
  • Hongwei Zhang
    • 1
  • Zhilin Ran
    • 5
    Email author
  • Jeffrey R. McCutcheon
    • 2
  1. 1.State Key Laboratory of Separation Membranes and Membrane Processes, School of Environmental Science and EngineeringTianjin Polytechnic UniversityTianjinChina
  2. 2.Department of Chemical and Biomolecular EngineeringUniversity of ConnecticutStorrsUSA
  3. 3.Tianjin Haiyuanhui Technology Co., Ltd.TianjinChina
  4. 4.Department of Municipal Engineering, School of Civil and Hydraulic EngineeringHefei University of TechnologyHefeiChina
  5. 5.Institute of Innovational Education ResearchShenzhen Institute of Information TechnologyShenzhenChina

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