Analysis of backwash settings to maximize net water production in an engineering-scale ultrafiltration system for water reuse

Mohammed A. Alhussaini, Zachary M. Binger, Bianca M. Souza-Chaves, Oluwamayowa O. Amusat, Jangho Park, Timothy V. Bartholomew, Dan Gunter, Andrea Achilli

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations


Ultrafiltration (UF) has been widely utilized as water pretreatment for different applications especially in water reuse. The UF system operation is characterized by a filtration phase, where particles accumulate on the membrane surface resulting in an increase in the transmembrane pressure (TMP) and a cleaning phase, where foulants are removed through cleaning cycles including physical backwash and chemical-enhanced backwash (CEB). In this study, data from an engineering-scale UF system treating reclaimed wastewater were used to assess the impact of backwashing on the filtration process. TMP backwash trigger, backwash duration, and CEB frequency were purposely varied for a cycle-by-cycle investigation on the net water production, water recovery, initial operating TMP, and filtration cycle duration. As the TMP backwash trigger was varied between 62 and 145 kPa, the maximum net water production (63 m3/d) was achieved at 103 kPa and water recovery remained relatively constant at approximately 92 %. Backwash durations of 45, 65, and 85 s were performed where both net water production and water recovery yielded similar results (~63 m3/d and ~ 91 %) compared with 103 kPa TMP backwash trigger. The CEB frequency was also lowered from one every three backwashes (1/3) to 1/6 and 1/12 and resulted in decreased net water production and water recovery while the initial TMP increased. Interestingly, the total number of CEBs remained approximately constant regardless of their frequency. Results suggest that CEB is an important fouling control process to maximize water production.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number103761
JournalJournal of Water Process Engineering
StatePublished - Jul 2023


  • Backwash
  • Data mining
  • Membrane fouling
  • Ultrafiltration
  • Water reuse

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biotechnology
  • Safety, Risk, Reliability and Quality
  • Waste Management and Disposal
  • Process Chemistry and Technology


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