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Water Supply Vol 3 No 5 pp 211–215 © IWA Publishing 2003

Integral diagnosis of fouling problems by analysing biomass and inorganic compounds in membrane elements used in water treatment

J.S. Vrouwenvelder* and D. Van der Kooij**

*Kiwa Water Research, PO Box 1072, 3430 BB Nieuwegein, The Netherlands (E-mail: Hans.Vrouwenvelder@kiwa.nl)
**Kiwa Water Research, PO Box 1072, 3430 BB Nieuwegein, The Netherlands


ABSTRACT
Operational problems in membrane installations used in water treatment can be caused by a variety of fouling types. Therefore, a systematic approach based on the application of an autopsy of membrane elements followed by analysis has been developed, which enables an integral diagnosis of the type and extent of fouling. Analysis includes both biological parameters for biomass quantification (ATP) and biomass characterisation and chemical parameters for determining the presence of inorganic compounds (ICP-MS). Advantages of this approach include: first, complete and conclusive information about the nature and extent of fouling of the membrane filtration plant; and secondly, rapid diagnosis (within 8 hours) of biofouling. In addition to membrane element analysis, also a suite of monitoring tools (AOC test, biofilm monitor, oxygen consumption monitor and scaleguard) is available for elucidation and control of the processes responsible for the fouling problems. These tools can also be used to test chemicals for their effect on (bio)fouling. Research is continuing to substantiate relationships between test parameters and the extent of operational problems.

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