Decentralized membrane filtration system for sustainable and safe drinking water supply in low-income countries: Baseline study

Haiou Huang, Joseph G. Jacangelo, Kellogg J. Schwab

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Scopus citations


Decentralized membrane filtration systems (DMFS) have the potential to supply safe drinking water in low-income countries (LICs) where centralized municipal water treatment is practically infeasible. This study aimed at applying an integrated bench-scale and field-testing approach to assess the sustainability of a DMFS in producing safe drinking water in LICs. The state-of-the-art DMFS employed in this study was capable of removing bacteria, surrogate parasites, and viruses at log reductions above 7, 5, and 4, respectively, from evaluated waters (n=4). The technological sustainability of the DMFS was primarily affected by membrane fouling, and a linear correlation was found between the reversible/irreversible fouling rates of a miniature bench-scale system and those of the full-size DMFS caused by representative types of source waters. The total and irreversible fouling rates of the full-size DMFS were approximately 50% of those of the miniature system, regardless of the properties of the source waters. Similar quantitative relationships may be established between the fouling rates of the bench-scale system and those of other full-size DMFS. Overall, easy and cost-effective fouling control is warranted for sustainable application of DMFS in LICs, and bench-scale membrane testing serves as a potential screening tool for this purpose.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)981-989
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of Environmental Engineering
Issue number11
StatePublished - Nov 1 2011


  • Decentralized membrane filtration system
  • Low-income countries
  • Membrane fouling
  • Safe drinking water
  • Sustainability
  • Water quality

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Environmental Engineering
  • Civil and Structural Engineering
  • Environmental Chemistry
  • Environmental Science(all)


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