Johannes Vrouwenvelder, Ph.D.


Professor | Center Director

Research Interests

  • Biofilms and (bio)fouling control of membrane systems and cooling towers. 
  • Biological stability in drinking water production and distribution.
  • Sensors and tools for (i) early detection and in-situ non-destructive biofilm monitoring and characterization and (ii) rapid sensitive microbial water quality monitoring.

Selected Publications

  • Natural deep eutectic solvents as biofilm structural breakers
    M.F. Nava-Ocampo, L.A. Fuhaid, R. Verpoorte, Y.H. Choi, M.C.M. van Loosdrecht, J.S. Vrouwenvelder, G.J. Witkamp, A.S.F. Farinha, S.S. Bucs
    Water Research, 201, art. no. 117323 (2021), DOI: 10.1016/j.watres.2021.117323
  • Monitoring of hollow fiber module velocity field and fouling inside individual fibers using benchtop
    B. Yan, N.W. Bristow, S.J. Vogt, J.S. Vrouwenvelder, M.L. Johns, E.O. Fridjonsson
    MRI Journal of Membrane Science, 629, art. no. 119238 (2021), DOI: 10.1016/j.memsci.2021.119238
  • M.C.M. Efficient cooling tower operation at alkaline pH for the control of Legionella pneumophila and other pathogenic genera
    I.S.M. Pinel, P.M. Hankinson, D.H. Moed, L.J. Wyseure, J.S. Vrouwenvelder, M.C.M. van Loosdrecht
    Water Research, 197, art. no. 117047 (2021), DOI: 10.1016/j.watres.2021.117047
  • Evaluation of DNA extraction yield from a chlorinated drinking water distribution system
    R.E. Putri, L.H. Kim, N. Farhat, M. Felemban, P.E. Saikaly, J.S. Vrouwenvelder
    PLoS ONE, 16 (6 June), art. no. e0253799 (2021), DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0253799
  • Novel Magnetic Resonance Measurements of Fouling in Operating Spiral Wound Reverse Osmosis Membrane Modules
    N.W. Bristow, S.J. Vogt, S.S. Bucs, J.S. Vrouwenvelder, M.L. Johns, E.O. Fridjonsson
    Water Research, 196, art. no. 117006 (2021), DOI: 10.1016/j.watres.2021.117006
  • Effect of phosphate availability on biofilm formation in cooling towers
    I.S.M. Pinel, L.H. Kim, V.R. Proença Borges, N.M. Farhat, G.-J. Witkamp, M.C.M. van Loosdrecht, J.S. Vrouwenvelder. Biofouling, 36 (7), pp. 800-815 (2020), DOI: 10.1080/08927014.2020.1815011
  • Facultative hybrid RO-PRO concept to improve economic performance of PRO: Feasibility and maximizing efficiency
    B. Blankert, Y. Kim, H. Vrouwenvelder, N. Ghaffour
    Desalination, 478, art. no. 114268 (2020), DOI: 10.1016/j.desal.2019.114268
  • Cartridge filter selection and replacement: Optimization of produced water quantity, quality, and cost
    N.M. Farhat, C. Christodoulou, P. Placotas, B. Blankert, O. Sallangos, J.S. Vrouwenvelder
    Desalination, 473, art. no. 114172 (2020), DOI: 10.1016/j.desal.2019.114172
  • Impact of membrane biofouling in the sequential development of performance indicators: Feed channel pressure drop, permeability, and salt rejection
    N. Siebdrath, N. Farhat, W. Ding, J. Kruithof, J.S. Vrouwenvelder
    Journal of Membrane Science, 585, pp. 199-207 (2019), DOI: 10.1016/j.memsci.2019.05.043
  • Pilot-scale assessment of urea as a chemical cleaning agent for biofouling control in spiral-wound reverse osmosis membrane elements
    H. Sanawar, S.S. Bucs, M.A. Pot, J. Zlopasa, N.M. Farhat, G.-J. Witkamp, J.C. Kruithof, M.C.M. van Loosdrecht, J.S. Vrouwenvelder
    Membranes, 9 (9), art. no. 117 (2019), DOI: 10.3390/membranes9090117


​Ph.D., Biotechnology, Faculty of Applied Sciences, Delft University of Technology, The Netherlands, 2009​

Professional Profile

  • 2016-Present: Professor, KAUST, Saudi Arabia
  • 2013-Present: Professor (0% position), Department of Biotechnology, Delft University of Technology, Delft, The Netherlands
  • 2011-2016: Visiting Professor, KAUST, Saudi Arabia​
  • 2006-2013: Associate Professor, Department of Biotechnology, Delft University of Technology, Delft, The Netherlands
  • 2006-2016: Research Advisor, Wetsus, Centre of Excellence for Sustainable Water Technology, Leeuwarden, The Netherlands
  • 1993-2006: Researcher, KWR Watercycle Research Institute, Nieuwegein, The Netherlands
  • 1989-1993: Researcher, Department of Biotechnology, Delft University of Technology, Delft, The Netherlands

Scientific and Professional Membership

  • ​European Desalination Society
  • International Water Association
  • International Desalination Association


  • AWWA WQTC best paper award, 2014
  • KAUST Seed fund Innovation Award, 2013
  • ​Waternet Watercyclus Innovation Award, 2011​

KAUST Affiliations

  • ​Water Desalination and Reuse Center (WDRC)
  • Division of Biological and Environmental Sciences and Engineering (BESE)​​

Research Interests Keywords

Biofouling Water Treatment Biofilms Transport and distribution Biological stability / regrowth Microbial water quality Membrane fouling Biofilm monitors On-line sensors