Potential of an innovative ultrapure water production plant with biological activated carbon filters

Biological Activated Carbon (BAC) is a water purification process that combines physical adsorption onto granular activated carbon (AC) and pollutants/organics biodegradation through biofilms. The technology is eco-friendly and cost-effective, since the biodegradation helps to prevent the saturation and replacement of the AC. BAC is an established process in drinking water treatment[1], and also has potential for wastewater reclamation [2,3]. At the Puurwaterfabriek (Emmen, the Netherlands), ultrafiltration (UF), BAC Pre-filter (O2BAC PrF) and BAC Polishing Filter (O2BAC PoF), and Reverse Osmosis (RO) are applied in sequence to produce ultrapure water by treating the effluent of a wastewater treatment plant [5]. The important innovation of this plant, now in operation for over 10 years, is is the absence of fouling of the RO membranes , although in literature BAC treatment is often associated with downstream fouling [4]. This research aims to understand how UF and BAC can prevent downstream fouling of RO units.


Technological challenge

The BAC filters at the Puurwaterfabriek are unique as they are constantly oxygenated and periodically back-flushed. The challenge is to investigate possible synergy between the biotic and abiotic processes contributing to the removal of fouling precursors, and to establish how these processes depend on the BAC operation and design.


[1] Korotta-Gamage, S. M., and Sathasivan, A., Chemosphere. 167 (2017) 120-138

[2] Riley, S. M. et al. Sci. Total Environ. 640-641 (2018) 419-428.

[3] Tammaro, M., et al. J. Environ. Chem. Eng. 2(3) (2014) 1445-1455.

[4] Im, D., et al. Chemosphere. 220 (2019) 20-27. [5] NWTR, 2016.