Fouling and Scaling

Our group has been interested in both inorganic scaling and organic fouling. We have modeling scale precipitation from high salinity water, including brines and produced water, by building on the Pitzer-Kim formulation. We have experimentally studied inorganic fouling in membrane distillation, and introduced means of inhibiting MD fouling.

We have also experimentally studied organic fouling using alginate. We have shown experimentally that high hydraulic pressure is not by itself a factor in alginate fouling, cleaning, or flux recovery. In additional, we have also developed chemical-free technologies for removing organic foulants from RO membranes.

Selected Papers on Fouling and Scaling in Desalination Systems

O. Labban, G. Goon, Z.H. Foo, X. Zhao, and J. H. Lienhard V, “Osmotically-induced cleaning of fouled reverse osmosis membranes in desalination,” IDA World Congress on Desalination and Water Reuse, Dubai, UAE, 20–24 Oct. 2019. IDA Ref. No. IDAWC19-Labban. (PDF and videos)

E. Nagy, I. Hegedüs, E.W. Tow, J.H. Lienhard V, “Effect of fouling on performance of pressure retarded osmosis (PRO) and forward osmosis (FO),” J. Membrane Sci., online 24 August 2018, 565:450-462, 1 November 2018. (doi link)

E.W. Tow, D.M. Warsinger, J. Swaminathan, A.M. Trueworthy, G.P. Thiel, S.M. Zubair, A.S. Myerson, and J.H. Lienhard V, “Comparison of fouling propensity between reverse osmosis, forward osmosis, and membrane distillation,” J. Membrane Sci., online 27 March 2018, 556: 352-364, 15 June 2018. (doi link) (preprint)

D.M. Warsinger, E.W. Tow, L.A. Maswadeh, G. Connors, J. Swaminathan, and J.H. Lienhard V, “Inorganic fouling mitigation by salinity cycling in batch reverse osmosis,” Water Research, online 5 Feb. 2018, 137:384-394, 15 June 2018. (doi link) (preprint)

Flux decline depends on flux level but not on operating pressure.

Flux decline rate (averaged over 2 h) plotted against flux. Flux decline rate at a given flux generally increases with increasing initial flux for this low-salinity feed. The hydraulic pressure does not affect flux decline. (Tow & Lienhard, 2017)

E.W. Tow and J.H. Lienhard V, “Unpacking compaction: effect of hydraulic pressure on alginate fouling,” J. Membrane Sci., online 8 Sept. 2017, 544C:221-233, 15 Dec. 2017. (doi link) (preprint) Flux decline rate due to alginate fouling was not affected by the operating hydraulic pressure. Flux recovery after cleaning was not correlated with operating pressure. Foulant removal mechanisms did not vary with operating pressure. Low hydraulic pressure is not advantageous for fouling resistance.

D.M. Warsinger, E.W. Tow, J. Swaminathan, and J.H. Lienhard V, “Theoretical framework for predicting inorganic fouling in membrane distillation and experimental validation with calcium sulfate,” J. Membrane Sci., online 22 Jan. 2017, 528:381-390, 15 April 2017. (doi link) (preprint)

E.W. Tow, M. Rencken, and J.H. Lienhard V, “In situ visualization of organic fouling and cleaning mechanisms in reverse osmosis and forward osmosis,” Desalination, online 9 Sept. 2016, 399:138-147, 1 Dec. 2016. (doi link) (preprint)

E.W.Tow and J.H. Lienhard V, “Quantifying osmotic membrane fouling to enable comparisons across diverse processes,” J. Membrane Sci., 511:92-107, 1 Aug. 2016. (doi link) (preprint)

D.M. Warsinger, A. Servi, S. Van Belleghem, J. Gonzalez, J. Swaminathan, J. Kharraz, H.W. Chung, H.A. Arafat, K.K. Gleason, and J.H. Lienhard V, “Combining Air Recharging and Membrane Superhydrophobicity for Fouling Prevention in Membrane Distillation,” J. Membrane Sci., online 14 January 2016, 505:241-252, 1 May 2016. (doi link) (preprint)

G.P. Thiel, S.M. Zubair, and J.H. Lienhard V, “An analysis of likely scalants in the treatment of produced water from Nova Scotia,” Heat Transfer Engineering, 36(7-8):652-662, 2015. (doi link) (preprint)

D.E.M. Warsinger, J. Swaminathan, E. Guillen, H.A. Arafat, and J.H. Lienhard V, “Scaling and Fouling In Membrane Distillation for Desalination Applications: A Review,” Desalination, 356:294-313, 15 January 2015. (doi link) (preprint)

G.P. Thiel and J.H. Lienhard V, “Treating produced water from hydraulic fracturing: composition effects on scale formation and desalination system selection,” Desalination, 346:54-69, May 2014. (doi link) (preprint)