S. Al-Mashharawi, N. Ghaffour, M. Al-Ghamdi, G.L. Amy
Desalination and Water Treatment, 405-406, 212-218, (2012)
Conventional processes are widely used as pretreatment for reverse osmosis (RO) desalination technology since its development. However, these processes require a large footprint and have some limitation issues such as difficulty to maintain a consistent silt density index, coagulation control at low total suspended solids, and management of higher waste sludge. Recently, there has been a rapid growth in the use of low-pressure membranes as pretreatment for RO systems replacing the conventional processes. However, despite the numerous advantages of using this integrated membrane system mainly providing good and stable water quality to RO membranes, many issues have to be addressed. The primary limitation is membrane fouling which reduces the permeate flux; therefore, higher pumping intensity is required to maintain a consistent volume of product. This paper aims to optimize the permeation flux and cleaning frequency by providing high permeate quality. Different low-pressure polyethersulfone membranes with different pore sizes ranging from 0.1 μm to 50 kDa were tested. Eight different filtration configurations have been applied including the variation of coagulant doses aiming to control membrane fouling. Results showed that all the configurations with/without coagulation, provided permeate with excellent water quality which improves the stability of RO performance. However, more stable fluxes with less-energy consumption were achieved by using the 0.1 μm and 100 kDa membranes with 1 mg/L FeCl3 coagulation. The use of UF membranes, having tight pores, without coagulation also proved to be an excellent option for Red Sea water RO pretreatment.