Source water quality shaping different fouling scenarios in a full-scale desalination plant at the Red Sea
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The complexity of Reverse Osmosis (RO) membrane fouling phenomenon has been widely studied and several factors influencing it have been reported by many researchers. This original study involves the investigation of two different fouling profiles produced at a seawater RO desalination plant installed on a floating mobile barge. The plant was moved along the coastline of the Red Sea in Saudi Arabia. The two locations where the barge was anchored showed different water quality. At the second location, two modules were harvested. One of the modules was pre-fouled by inorganics during plant operation at the previous site while the other was installed at the second site. Fouled membranes were subjected to a wide range of chemical and microbiological characterization procedures. Drastically different fouling patterns were observed in the two membranes which indicates the influence of source water quality on membrane surface modification and on fouling of RO membranes.
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