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Environmental Engineering Research 2021;26(5): 200377 DOI: https://doi.org/10.4491/eer.2020.377
Powdered activated carbon (PAC) – vacuum-assisted air gap membrane distillation (V-AGMD) hybrid system to treat wastewater containing surfactants: Effect of operating conditions
Yusik Kim, Yongjun Choi, Jihyeok Choi, and Sangho Lee
School of Civil and Environmental Engineering, Kookmin University, Jeongneung-Dong, Seongbuk-Gu, Seoul, 136-702, Republic of Korea
Corresponding Author: Sangho Lee ,Tel: +82-2-910-4529, Fax: +82-2-910-4939, Email: sanghlee@kookmin.ac.kr
Received: July 2, 2020;  Accepted: September 25, 2020.
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Membrane distillation (MD), which uses hydrophobic porous membranes with a temperature gradient to produce pure water, has the potential to treat high-salinity wastewater. However, it cannot directly treat wastewater containing surfactants, which lower the surface tension and thus result in membrane wetting. To overcome this limitation, this study proposed a hybrid process consisting of powdered activated carbon (PAC) adsorption and MD, where PAC removes the surfactants in the wastewater to alleviate the wetting of the MD membranes. A bench-scale vacuum-assisted air gap MD (V-AGMD) equipment was adopted for the treatment of synthetic wastewater containing inorganic salts and surfactants. The conductivity of the permeate from V-AGMD was continuously monitored to detect membrane wetting. Without the use of PAC, the MD membrane was wetted within a short period, which decreased as the surfactant concentration increased. On the other hand, the addition of PAC retards the onset of wetting even at higher surfactant concentrations. The effectiveness of the PAC addition to the MD system on wetting control was examined under various conditions to elucidate its mechanism.
Keywords: High-salinity wastewater | Membrane distillation (MD) | Surfactant | Vacuum-assisted AGMD (V-AGMD) | Wetting
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