Performance Evaluation of Hybrid Coagulation/Nanofiltration Process for AT-POME Treatment


1 Advanced Membrane Technology Research Centre (AMTEC), Universiti Teknologi Malaysia, 81310 Skudai, Johor, Malaysia.

2 School of Chemical and Energy Engineering, Universiti Teknologi Malaysia, 81310 Skudai, Johor, Malaysia.

3 Faculty of Science and Industry Technology, Prince of Songkla University, Surat Thani Campus, 84000 Surat Thani, Thailand


The presence of lignin and its degraded products such as tannin and humic acids is the main reason causing the aerobically-treated palm oil mill effluent (AT-POME) to display colour at the point of discharge. In this work, a hybrid method is developed to treat the AT-POME sample that was conventionally treated by biological method. This hybrid method combines coagulation and nanofiltration (NF) membrane process is used to treat the industrial effluent in which the coagulation is conducted prior to NF process. The effects of several variables during coagulation process, i.e., alum concentration, decolouring polymer dosage, cationic polymer dosage and pH on the colour removal and sludge volume production are investigated using response surface methodology (RSM). Optimum variable conditions are chosen to prepare samples with maximum colour rejection and minimum sludge volume for further treatment using the NF membrane process. Under the optimum coagulation conditions (50 mg/L alum, 441 mg/L decolouring polymer, 534 mg/L cationic polymer and pH 9.2), the results showed 92% colour removal with sludge volume as low as 4.1 mL. Further treatment using commercial NF membranes indicated that a permeate sample with complete elimination of colour (almost 100% colour removal) could be produced with reasonably high water flux.


  1. Hansen, S., “Feasibility study of performing a life cycle assessment on crude palm oil production in Malaysia (9 pp)”, The International Journal of Life Cycle Assessment, Vol. 12, (2007), 50-58.
  2. Beaudry, G., Macklin, C., Roknich, E., Sears, L., Wiener, M., and Gheewala, S. H., “Greenhouse gas assessment of palm oil mill biorefinery in Thailand from a life cycle perspective”, Biomass Conversion and Biorefinery, Vol. 7, (2017), 1-16.
  3. Zinatizadeh, A., Mohamed, A., Mashitah, M., Abdullah, A., and Najafpour, G., “Pretreated palm oil mill effluent (POME) digestion in an up-flow anaerobic sludge fixed film bioreactor: A comparative study”, International Journal of Engineering, Transaction B: Applications, Vol. 6, (2006), 7-15.
  4. Izah, S., Ohimain, E., and Angaye, T., “Potential thermal energy from palm oil processing solid wastes in Nigeria: mills consumption and surplus quantification”, British Journal of Renewable Energy, Vol. 1, (2016), 38-44.
  5. Hadiyanto, H., Soetrisnanto, D., and Christwardhana, M., “Phytoremediation of Palm Oil Mill Effluent Using Pistia Stratiotes Plant and Algae Spirulina sp for Biomass Production”, International Journal of Engineering-Transactions C: Aspects, Vol. 27, (2014), 1809-1814.
  6. Suwanno, S., Rakkan, T., Yunu, T., Paichid, N., Kimtun, P., Prasertsan, P., and Sangkharak, K., “The production of biodiesel using residual oil from palm oil mill effluent and crude lipase from oil palm fruit as an alternative substrate and catalyst”, Fuel, Vol. 195, (2017), 82-87.
  7. Nasrullah, M., Singh, L., Mohamad, Z., Norsita, S., Krishnan, S., Wahida, N., and Zularisam, A., “Treatment of palm oil mill effluent by electrocoagulation with presence of hydrogen peroxide as oxidizing agent and polialuminum chloride as coagulant-aid”, Water Resources and Industry, Vol. 17, (2017), 7-10.
  8. Zinatizadeh, A. A., Ibrahim, S., Aghamohammadi, N., Mohamed, A. R., Zangeneh, H., and Mohammadi, P., “Polyacrylamide-induced coagulation process removing suspended solids from palm oil mill effluent”, Separation Science and Technology, Vol. 52, (2017), 520-527.
  9. Bello, M. M. and Raman, A. A. A., “Trend and current practices of palm oil mill effluent polishing: Application of advanced oxidation processes and their future perspectives”, Journal of Environmental Management, Vol. 198, (2017), 170-182.
  10. Abdullah, W. N. A. S., Lau, W.-J., Aziz, F., Emadzadeh, D., and Ismail, A. F., “Performance of Nanofiltration‐Like Forward‐Osmosis Membranes for Aerobically Treated Palm Oil Mill Effluent”, Chemical Engineering & Technology, (2017), doi:10.1002/ceat.201700339.
  11. Vishnu, G. and Joseph, K., “Nanofiltration and ozonation for decolorisation and salt recovery from reactive dyebath”, Coloration Technology, Vol. 123, (2007), 260-266.
  12. Tang, C. and Chen, V., “Nanofiltration of textile wastewater for water reuse”, Desalination, Vol. 143, (2002), 11-20.
  13. Reddy, A., Trivedi, J., Devmurari, C., Mohan, D., Singh, P., Rao, A., Joshi, S., and Ghosh, P., “Fouling resistant membranes in desalination and water recovery”, Desalination, Vol. 183, (2005), 301-306.
  14. Chakraborty, S., Purkait, M., DasGupta, S., De, S., and Basu, J., “Nanofiltration of textile plant effluent for color removal and reduction in COD”, Separation and Purification Technology, Vol. 31, (2003), 141-151.
  15. Chakraborty, S., De, S., Basu, J., and DasGupta, S., “Treatment of a textile effluent: application of a combination method involving adsorption and nanofiltration”, Desalination, Vol. 174, (2005), 73-85.
  16. Golob, V. and Ojstršek, A., “Removal of vat and disperse dyes from residual pad liquors”, Dyes and Pigments, Vol. 64, (2005), 57-61.
  17. Mishra, A. and Bajpai, M., “The flocculation performance of Tamarindus mucilage in relation to removal of vat and direct dyes”, Bioresource Technology, Vol. 97, (2006), 1055-1059.
  18. Achaerandio, I., Güell, C., and López, F., “New approach to continuous vinegar decolourisation with exchange resins”, Journal of Food Engineering, Vol. 78, (2007), 991-994.
  19. Davarnejad, R., Arpanahzadeh, S., Karimi, A., and Pirhadi, M., “Landfill leachate treatment using an electrochemical technique: An optimized process (Research note)”, International Journal of Engineering-Transactions A: Basics, Vol. 28, (2014), 7-5.
  20. Kim, T.-H., Park, C., Shin, E.-B., and Kim, S., “Decolorization of disperse and reactive dye solutions using ferric chloride”, Desalination, Vol. 161, (2004), 49-58.
  21. Petzold, G. and Schwarz, S., “Dye removal from solutions and sludges by using polyelectrolytes and polyelectrolyte–surfactant complexes”, Separation and Purification Technology, Vol. 51, (2006), 318-324.
  22. Amat, N. A., Tan, Y., Lau, W., Lai, G., Ong, C., Mokhtar, N., Sani, N., Ismail, A., Goh, P., and Chong, K., “Tackling colour issue of anaerobically-treated palm oil mill effluent using membrane technology”, Journal of Water Process Engineering, Vol. 8, (2015), 221-226.
  23. Emadzadeh, D., Lau, W. J., Matsuura, T., Ismail, A. F., and Rahbari-Sisakht, M., “Synthesis and characterization of thin film nanocomposite forward osmosis membrane with hydrophilic nanocomposite support to reduce internal concentration polarization”, Journal of Membrane Science, Vol. 449, (2014), 74-85.
  24. Emadzadeh, D., Lau, W., Rahbari-Sisakht, M., Ilbeygi, H., Rana, D., Matsuura, T., and Ismail, A., “Synthesis, modification and optimization of titanate nanotubes-polyamide thin film nanocomposite (TFN) membrane for forward osmosis (FO) application”, Chemical Engineering Journal, Vol. 281, (2015), 243-251.
  25. Obiora-Okafo, I. and Onukwuli, O., “Optimization of coagulation-flocculation process for colour removal from synthetic dye wastewater using natural organic polymers: Response surface methodology applied”, International Journal of Scientific & Engineering Research, Vol. 6, (2015), 693-704.
  26. Subramaniam, M., Goh, P., Lau, W., Ng, B., and Ismail, A., “AT-POME colour removal through photocatalytic submerged filtration using antifouling PVDF-TNT nanocomposite membrane”, Separation and Purification Technology, Vol. 191, (2018), 266-275.
  27. Hassan, M. A., Li, T. P., and Noor, Z. Z., “Coagulation and flocculation treatment of wastewater in textile industry using chitosan”, Journal of Chemical and Natural Resources Engineering, Vol. 4, (2009), 43-53.
  28. Joo, D. J., Shin, W. S., Choi, J.-H., Choi, S. J., Kim, M.-C., Han, M. H., Ha, T. W., and Kim, Y.-H., “Decolorization of reactive dyes using inorganic coagulants and synthetic polymer”, Dyes and Pigments, Vol. 73, (2007), 59-64.
  29. Yan, M., Wang, D., Yu, J., Ni, J., Edwards, M., and Qu, J., “Enhanced coagulation with polyaluminum chlorides: role of pH/alkalinity and speciation”, Chemosphere, Vol. 71, (2008), 1665-1673.
  30. Shi, B., Li, G., Wang, D., Feng, C., and Tang, H., “Removal of direct dyes by coagulation: The performance of preformed polymeric aluminum species”, Journal of Hazardous Materials, Vol. 143, (2007), 567-574.
  31. Verma, A. K., Dash, R. R., and Bhunia, P., “A review on chemical coagulation/flocculation technologies for removal of colour from textile wastewaters”, Journal of Environmental Management, Vol. 93, (2012), 154-168.
  32. El-Gohary, F. and Tawfik, A., “Decolorization and COD reduction of disperse and reactive dyes wastewater using chemical-coagulation followed by sequential batch reactor (SBR) process”, Desalination, Vol. 249, (2009), 1159-1164.
  33. Kim, T.-H., Park, C., Shin, E.-B., and Kirm, S., “Effects of Cl-based chemical coagulants on electrochemical oxidation of textile wastewater”, Desalination, Vol. 155, (2003), 59-65.
  34. Hemingway, R. W. and Laks, P. E., “Plant polyphenols: synthesis, properties, significance”, Springer Science & Business Media, Vol. 59, (2012).
  35. Bidhendi, G. N., Torabian, A., Ehsani, H., and Razmkhah, N., “Evaluation of industrial dyeing wastewater treatment with coagulants and polyelectrolyte as a coagulant aid”, Journal of Environmental Health Science & Engineering, Vol. 4, (2007), 29-36.
  36. Guibai, L. and Gregory, J., “Flocculation and sedimentation of high-turbidity waters”, Water research, Vol. 25, (1991), 1137-1143.
  37. Gohari, R. J., Lau, W., Matsuura, T., and Ismail, A., “Effect of surface pattern formation on membrane fouling and its control in phase inversion process”, Journal of Membrane Science, Vol. 446, (2013), 326-331.
  38. Fan, J., Yu, S., Zhang, P., Lan, Y., Liu, R., and Chen, L., “Mechanism of membrane fouling and filtration characteristics in a membrane bioreactor for industrial wastewater treatment”, Huan jing ke xue= Huanjing kexue, Vol. 34, (2013), 950-954.
  39. Meng, F., Yang, F., Xiao, J., Zhang, H., and Gong, Z., “A new insight into membrane fouling mechanism during membrane filtration of bulking and normal sludge suspension”, Journal of Membrane Science, Vol. 285, (2006), 159-165.
  40. Choo, K.-H. and Lee, C.-H., “Membrane fouling mechanisms in the membrane-coupled anaerobic bioreactor”, Water Research, Vol. 30, (1996), 1771-1780.