What Is Ultrafiltration?

Ultrafiltration uses a low-pressure process in which clarification and disinfection are performed in a single step. This process uses a series of membranes that filter particles larger than 20 nanometers, such as pollen, algae, parasites, viruses, bacteria, and organic molecules. As it passes through these membranes, impurities are removed, while minerals salts, including potassium, calcium, and sodium, required for proper human health, are retained.

What Is The Function Of Ultrafiltration In Water and Wastewater Treatment?

Ultrafiltration ensures a constant and perfect water quality regardless of variations in the quality and turbidity of the water to be treated. In addition, this method is more natural than other methods of purification, reducing the use of chemicals and waste treatment, while maintaining the mineral balance of the water.

Ultrafiltration assures the highest quality water available. The finished product is on average 200 times cheaper than bottled water and has far less of an environmental impact.

How Does Ultrafiltration Work?

Ultrafiltration works by forcing water through a semipermeable membrane. Suspended solids and high-molecular-weight solutes remain on one side of the membrane, called the retentate side, while water and low-molecular-weight solutes filter through the membrane to the permeate side.

UF can remove most organic molecules and viruses, as well as a range of salts. It has gained popularity because it produces a stable water quality no matter the source water, has a compact physical footprint, removes 90-100% of pathogens, and does not require chemicals, except for cleaning membranes.

Ultrafiltration has a pore size of approximately 0.002 to 0.1 microns, and a molecular weight cut-off, or MWCO, of approximately 10,000 to 100,000 daltons. MWCO is the molecular weight at which 90 percent of a macromolecular solute does not pass through the membrane.

Applications For Ultrafiltration Systems

Ultrafiltration water treatment systems are used in a variety of settings, including:

  • The production of high-quality water for product formulations or for cleaning equipment. For example, in the food and beverage industries, ultrafiltration is used to produce bottled water and other beverages and rinsing lines. This is typically referred to as process water.
  • In the pharmaceutical, cosmetics and other industries, ultrafiltered water is used with ion-exchange resin or reverse osmosis during production. Ultrafiltration helps protect resins and reverse osmosis membranes.
  • In the oil and gas industries, ultrafiltered water is used in pretreatment for desulfatation and seawater prefiltration.
  • In energy systems, as boiler feed water pretreatment and cooling water.
  • Ultrafiltered water is also used in instances of wastewater reuse. In these instances, it provides an excellent bacterial barrier and guarantees safety and cleanliness of tertiary water.
  • Municipalities also use ultrafiltration for the production of drinking water. It removes turbidity, bacteria and viruses without the use of chemicals in the finished drinking water. It also produces a dependable supply of drinking water, regardless of the level of turbidity and bacterial contamination of the raw water. Ultrafiltration is also important to produce drinking water for remote areas, emergency situations and in small communities.
How SUEZ Can Help?

SUEZ’ ultrafiltration technology has been deployed in thousands of businesses and municipal operations around the globe. We offer a large catalog of membrane solutions, including hollow-fiber ultrafiltration membranes. Our smart ultrafiltration solutions for municipal and industrial clients to produce safe and clean water. These systems are adapted to all sizes of municipal or industrial installations from 50 to 100,000 m3/day.


Contact a representative to learn more about wastewater treatment solutions offered by SUEZ North America.