Water treatment Membranes Americas

CASE STUDY: Advancing sustainable surface water treatment in the US

Tuesday, 26 September 2023

In an era of growing concerns about micropollutants in surface water sources, three engineering organisations in Melbourne, Florida joined forces to validate the sustainability claims of Hollow Fiber Direct Nanofiltration (dNF or HFNF) membranes on micropollutant retention with a low energy and chemical dosing footprint.

Collaboration in Melbourne, Florida

Jacobs Engineering, Harn RO, and NX Filtration’s collaboration aimed to compare HFNF technology with traditional methods, such as microfiltration plus spiral wound nanofiltration (MF+SWNF) and advanced oxidation plus granular activated carbon (AOP+GAC). 

The Melbourne Water Treatment Plant, which draws water from Lake Washington, a source with varying organic content and turbidity levels, provided an ideal test site.

The dNF membrane system was equipped with a 200-micron strainer as pre-treatment, highlighting its simplicity and efficiency. The system was provided by NX Filtration and designed by Harn R/O Systems, with Jacobs Engineering responsible for conducting the testing and analysis.

Demonstrating the viability of HFNF

The results of the collaboration revealed that HFNF membranes exhibited stable flux and effectively removed contaminants, establishing themselves as a viable option for water treatment. 

Furthermore, HFNF demonstrated cost advantages compared to alternative treatment options.

“We achieved stable operations at each different recovery tested,” said GJ Schers, project manager of Jacobs Engineering.

“We realised a high operational recovery of 85 per cent, minimising water waste. The permeate produced was of excellent quality, particularly for colour, DOC, sulphates, and turbidity, while allowing monovalent ions to pass through.”

Future prospects 

Schers has highlighted the potential for future optimisation to ensure compliance with regulatory standards, such as the Lead and Copper Rule (LCR), designed to protect public health by minimising lead and copper levels in drinking water. 

Tony Fuhrman, NX Filtrations country manager Americas, emphasized that HFNF membranes offer sustainable surface water treatment with superior micropollutant retention, low energy consumption, and minimal chemical dosing. 

The Melbourne demo confirmed stable flux, effective contaminant removal, and reduced capital and operating costs compared to traditional methods.

Positive change 

The collaboration between Jacobs Engineering, Harn RO, and NX Filtration in Melbourne, Florida, serves as a notable case study of how Hollow Fiber Direct Nanofiltration (dNF or HFNF) membranes are treating surface water treatment.

Last year KWR Water Research Institute revealed results from a full-scale test of dNF PFAS retention membranes from NX Filtration.

For the tests, KWR conducted a series of long-term tests with NX Filtration’s dNF membranes on the retention rates of PFAS that are commonly seen in real-life situations. 

This was based on tests of both surface water, from the Lekkanaal in the Netherlands, and on biologically treated effluent from a municipal wastewater treatment plant. 

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