Membrane against brownification – ”GenoMembran" - Sweden Water Research

Membrane against brownification – ”GenoMembran”

Northern lakes and rivers have become browner and browner. Explanations to this brownification are a few, but they can be summarized as the influence from humans – both an increase of some and a decrease of others.

Since lakes and rivers are very important for the water supply in Sweden, the drinking water producers are very much affected by this brownification. Today, the change of the raw water has been met by intensifying the existing processes, which entails extra costs. If the brownification continues, these processes might no longer be sufficient. This would lead to less pleasant tap water, but even more importantly, there will be a higher risk for contamination from bacteria or the formation of hazardous substances.

To cope with this, one way is to upgrade the treatment plants. A good alternative is membrane filtration, specifically ultra- and nanofiltration. The term comes from the biological membrane that encloses all cells: some substances are let into the cell, others are left outside. What types that passes through the filters can be adapted by the size of the pores and the material of the membrane.

In this project, membranes are trialed at Swedish treatment plants. Parallel to this, an analytical method for the determination of organic substances in the water is developed. Additionally, it can be used to tell if any particular species are reduced more than others.