Proposing nanofiltration as acceptable barrier for organic contaminants in water reuse
For water reuse applications, “tight” nanofiltration (NF) membranes (of polyamide) as an alternative to reverse osmosis (RO) can be an effective barrier against pharmaceuticals, pesticides, endocrine disruptors and other organic contaminants. The use of RO in existing water reuse facilities is addressed and questioned, taking into consideration that tight NF can be a more cost-effective and efficient technology to target the problem of organic contaminants. It was concluded that tight NF is an acceptable barrier for organic contaminants because its removal performance approaches that of RO, and because of reduced operation and maintenance (O&M) costs in long-term project implementation. Average removal of neutral compounds (including 1,4-dioxane) was about 82% and 85% for NF and RO, respectively, and average removal of ionic compounds was about 97% and 99% for NF and RO, respectively. In addition, “loose” NF after aquifer recharge and recovery (ARR) can be an effective barrier against micropollutants with removals over 90%. When there is the presence of difficult to remove organic contaminants such as NDMA and 1,4-dioxane; for 1,4-dioxane, source control or implementation of treatment processes in wastewater treatment plants will be an option; for NDMA, a good strategy is to limit its formation during wastewater treatment, but there is evidence that biodegradation of NDMA can be achieved during ARR.