Foulant Analysis of Three RO Membranes Used in Treating Simulated Brackish Water of the Iraqi Marshes

Membranes (Basel). 2017 Apr 13;7(2):23. doi: 10.3390/membranes7020023.


In this work, three different types of Reverse Osmosis (RO) (Thin-Film Composite (SE), Cellulose Acetate (CE), and Polyamide (AD)) were used to perform foulant analysis (autopsy) study on the deposited materials from three different simulated brackish surface feed waters. The brackish surface water qualities represented the water quality in Iraqi marshes. The main foulants from the simulated feed waters were characterized by using Scanning Electron Microscope (SEM) images and Energy-Dispersive X-ray Spectroscopy (EDXS) spectra. The effect of feed water temperatures (37 °C and 11 °C) on the formation of the fouled material deposited on the membrane surface was examined in this study. Also, pretreatment by a 0.1 micron microfiltration (MF) membrane of the simulated feed water in advance of the RO membrane on the precipitated material on the membrane surface was investigated. Finally, Fourier Transform Infrared Spectroscopy (FTIR) analysis was used to identify the functional groups of the organic matter deposited on the RO membrane surfaces. The SEM images and EDSX spectra suggested that the fouled material was mainly organic matter, and the major crystal deposited on the RO membrane was calcium carbonate (CaCO₃). The FTIR spectra of the fouled RO membranes suggested that the constituents of the fouled material included aliphatic and aromatic compounds.

Keywords: brackish water; foulant analysis; fouling; reverse osmosis.