In certain operating conditions it is common for fouling to occur on reverse osmosis membranes and spacer materials and this has adverse affects on operations at reverse osmosis plants. Membrane fouling causes a reduction in permeate water flow, lower salt rejection, increased differential pressure and loss of water quality. It is of fundamental importance to reduce membrane fouling in order to achieve optimal operation of reverse osmosis plants.
The results of autopsies carried out at the Adiquimica S.A. laboratory to determine the causes of fouling of reverse osmosis membranes indicate the most common source of fouling to be a combination of organic matter, microbiological contamination and contamination by clays and silicates of colloidal origin (aluminosilicates). Fouling by organic matter and microbiological contamination
Membrane fouling by organic matter is caused by the adsorption of organic compounds on the surface of the membrane. The interaction of the natural organic matter with the colloidal matter aggravates the membrane fouling process because these aggregates are deposited on the membrane surface forming part of the layer made up of particles, or they cause the organic matter to be more easily available as a nutrient for microorganisms, thereby promoting microbiological growth. Organic fouling and microbiological contamination are interrelated.
Eduard Cortada, Daniela Vidal, Juan Márquez, Eudald Bertran,
Irene Marian, and Jordi Aumatell. Adiquimica
Article published in: FuturENVIRO November 2013