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Desalination Pretreatment

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Why a pre treatment?


Reverse Osmosis Thin Film Composite membranes are subject to fouling by suspended materials that are
present in seawater. Typical seawater RO foulings are:
Fouling

Cause

Appropriate Pre-treatment

Biological
fouling

Bacteria, microorganisms, viruses, protozoan

Chlorination

Particle
fouling

sand, clay (turbidity, suspended solids)

Filtration

Colloidal
fouling

Organic and inorganic complexes, colloidal


particles, micro-algae

Coagulation + Filtration
Optional: Flocculation / sedimentation

Organic
fouling

Natural Organic Matter (NOM) : humic and


fulvic acids, biopolymers

Coagulation + Filtration + Activated


carbon adsorption
Coagulation+ Ultrafiltration

Mineral
fouling

Calcium, Magnesium Barium or Strontium


sulfates and carbonates

Antiscalant dosing
Acidification

Chlorine, Ozone, KMnO4

Oxidant scavenger dosing:


Sodium (meta)bilsulfite
Granulated Activated Carbon

Oxidant
fouling

Seawater Desalination typical pretreatment processes:


A very cost-effective way to avoid biological fouling is seawater chlorination . Unfortunately, chlorine
oxidizes the membrane material, therefore only 1000 ppmh can be tolerated.
A common dechlorination process is the injection of sodium bisulfite or metabisulfite, classified as a
chlorine scavenger. Another solution is the use of a granulated activated carbon.
NOM, particles and colloids can be removed by so-called "conventional treatment" consisting of
coagulation followed by deep media filtration for low turbidity water . Additional steps such as
flocculation and sedimentation are added in case of very turbid shallow seawater.
The non-conventional pretreatment for NOM , particles and colloids is ultrafiltration.
An antiscalant solution should be dosed before the reverse osmosis membranes to disperse calcium
carbonate and sulfates precipitates in order to avoid scaling.
Fine filtration (5-micron) is required as a last step before the RO membranes to prevent any debris, sand
particles or piping material to damage the membranes.
Desalination Pretreatment:

Chlorination

12/15/2016 11:18 AM