Since no pretreatment method is foolproof for the removal of foulants in reverse osmosis (RO) systems, the aim is to keep the production process efficiency as high as possible. In the vast majority of RO desalination plants, biofouling of membranes is considered as one of the most common operational problems. In this study, a full-scale seawater reverse osmosis (SWRO) desalination plant which was subject to severe biofouling was investigated. Autopsy showed higher biofilm concentrations near the inlet of the module likely due to the abundancy of nutrients. A pilot-scale system including silicon carbide ultrafiltration (SiC-UF) membranes was established in order to filter biological matter. According to the results of this study, SiC-UF membranes appeared to be a reliable pretreatment method for removing almost 100% of all micro-organisms.


This is the author-accepted manuscript of S. Nejati, S., S. A. Mirbagheri, D. M. Warsinger, and M. Fazeli. Biofouling in seawater reverse osmosis (SWRO): Impact of module geometry and mitigation with ultrafiltration. Journal of Water Process Engineering, 29, p.100782, 2019. Copyright Elsevier, it is made available here CC-BY-NC-ND. The version of record is available at https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jwpe.2019.100782.


Biofouling; Reverse osmosis; Desalination; Ultrafiltration; Silicon carbide; Autopsy; CFD

Date of this Version


Available for download on Thursday, January 20, 2022