Effects of water quality changes on performance of biological activated carbon (BAC) filtration

P. S. Ross*, L. T.J. van der Aa, T. van Dijk, L. C. Rietveld

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

13 Citations (Scopus)
85 Downloads (Pure)


Biological activated carbon (BAC) filtration is an important treatment step in the production of drinking water especially if drinking water is produced from surface water. The performance and processes within a BAC filter have been of interest for researchers since the 1980's, mainly because of its ability to remove natural organic matter known as disinfection precursors. A malfunction of one of the pre-treatment steps might affect the feed water quality into the BAC filters. The main objective of this study was to determine the immediate response of the BAC filters to a rapid change in feed water quality. It was shown that with the studied setup it was possible to compare the effect of different pre-treatment steps and subsequent different water qualities on the performance of the BAC filters on the long term adaptation. However, especially the immediate response was not studied in detail before. All filters were able to mitigate a sudden change in feed water quality, either through improved adsorption or increased activity of the biomass on the filter. As a result of this resilience against sudden changes, it is therefore concluded that there is no direct need for very stringent on-line monitoring and continuous adjustments of the feed water quality of the BAC filters. The addition of phosphate resulted in the lowest dissolved organic carbon (DOC) concentration in the effluent of the BAC filters. In this study the influence of intact cells in the feed water on the performance of the BAC filters was shown to be limited.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)676-683
Number of pages8
JournalSeparation and Purification Technology
Publication statusPublished - 2019

Bibliographical note

Green Open Access added to TU Delft Institutional Repository ‘You share, we take care!’ – Taverne project https://www.openaccess.nl/en/you-share-we-take-care Otherwise as indicated in the copyright section: the publisher is the copyright holder of this work and the author uses the Dutch legislation to make this work public.


  • Activated carbon
  • Biodegradation
  • Biomass activity
  • Intact cells
  • Nutrient limitation
  • Stable operation


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