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ARS Home » Midwest Area » Peoria, Illinois » National Center for Agricultural Utilization Research » Plant Polymer Research » Research » Publications at this Location » Publication #330802

Research Project: Improved Utilization of Proteinaceous Crop Co-Products

Location: Plant Polymer Research

Title: Gray water recycle: Effect of pretreatment technologies on low pressure reverse osmosis treatment

item Boddu, Veera
item PAUL, TIAS - Us Army Research
item PAGE, MARTIN - Us Army Research
item BYL, CRISTIAAN - Us Army Research
item WARD, LAURA - Us Army Research
item RUAN, JAMIE - Us Army Research

Submitted to: Journal of Environmental Chemical Engineering
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: 9/24/2016
Publication Date: 10/18/2016
Publication URL:
Citation: Boddu, V.M., Paul, T., Page, M.A., Byl, C., Ward, L., Ruan, J. 2016. Gray water recycle: Effect of pretreatment technologies on low pressure reverse osmosis treatment. Journal of Environmental Chemical Engineering. 4:4435-4443.

Interpretive Summary: Water recycling is becoming more relevant as new clean fresh water sources are becoming scarce. Domestic wastewater that has not come in contact with toilet wastewater is generally referred to as gray water. Gray water can be used for agricultural and other non-drinking uses. Gray water reuse generally requires treatment to decrease turbidity, organic and inorganic contaminants, and pathogenic microorganisms. This research evaluates various pre-filtration approaches required for developing an efficient water recycling technology. This study compares the effects of gray water pretreatment by cartridge filtration, microfiltration, and biofiltration on reverse psmosis (RO) membrane performance. The information would help develop bio-based membranes and biochar based filter media for recycling gray water and agricultural runoff water.

Technical Abstract: Gray water can be a valuable source of water when properly treated to reduce the risks associated with chemical and microbial contamination to acceptable levels for the intended reuse application. In this study, the treatment of gray water using low pressure reverse osmosis (RO) filtration after pre-filtration and aerobic biological filtration pretreatment was explored. Initially, nine commercial RO membranes were compared with dead end filtration tests for water flux and salt rejection at low pressures of operation (100-400 psi). Based on the dead end filtration results, one commercially-available membrane was subjected to further evaluation using a cross flow flat sheet test unit and gray water that had undergone various levels of pretreatment. The effects of gray water pretreatment with cartridge filtration, microfiltration, and aerobic biofiltration were compared in terms of membrane flux, chemical oxygen demand reduction, and salt rejection. Results from these RO filtration tests suggest that cartridge filtration in combination with RO treatment can achieve adequate reduction of gray water chemical oxygen demand (COD), but at the cost of progressively decreasing water flux through the RO membrane. Flux decline during cartridge filtration is mainly attributed to the presence of colloids >0.2 µm in size. In comparison, microfiltration maintains the water permeation capacity of the membrane, but permeate COD levels are higher. Biofiltered/microfiltered gray water shows RO permeate flux similar to microfiltered gray water and achieves permeate COD levels similar to cartridge filtered gray water.