Time-series image analysis for investigating SWRO fouling mechanism

Moonkhum Monruedee, Sarper Sarp, Young Geun Lee, Joon Ha Kim

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

6 Citations (Scopus)


The fouling behavior of seawater reverse osmosis membranes has yet to be definitively investigated due to the complexity of seawater compositions. In this study, a time-series image analysis (TSIA) was performed to investigate the fouling mechanism using scanning electron microscopy (SEM) and atomic force microscopy (AFM). The fouling experiments were conducted with synthetic seawater (SS) and SS mixed with humic acid substances (SHA). The effect of operational time was investigated for 2, 4, 6, 8, 12, and 20 h. According to the TSIA results, different fouling characteristics between SS and SHA experiments were observed. In the SS case, the fouling mechanism is the interaction between inorganic particles and the membrane surface as well as interaction between inorganic particles and the deposited foulants. Then, increased accumulation of deposited foulants was observed with respect to the operational time. However, in the presence of humic acid, the fouling mechanism was significantly influenced by the adsorption of humic acid onto the membrane surface at the initial stage (first 2 h). This organic layer traps inorganic particles and organic substances, and accelerates the fouling formation on the membrane surface, thereby leading to a greater flux decline compared to the SS experiment.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)212-220
Number of pages9
JournalDesalination and Water Treatment
Issue number1-3
Publication statusPublished - 2012
Externally publishedYes



  • Fouling mechanism
  • Image analysis
  • Membrane morphology
  • Reverse osmosis
  • Surface roughness

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pollution
  • Water Science and Technology
  • Ocean Engineering

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