Luca Fortunato, Ph.D.

Research Scientists

Research Scientist

Research Interests

  • Non-invasive in-situ fouling monitoring in membrane systems, Optical Coherence Tomography
  • Gravity driven membrane systems for sustainable water treatment processes 
  • Biofouling investigation in spiral wound elements (RO/NF) and membrane bioreactor (MBR)
  • Seawater desalination pretreatment, Harmful algal blooms (HABs)
  • Scaling in Membrane Distillation (MD) and Forward Osmosis (FO)
  • Algae Membrane Photobioreactor for wastewater treatment and nutrient recovery 

Selected Publications

  • Cake layer characterization in Activated Sludge Membrane Bioreactors: Real-time analysis 
    L. Fortunato, M. Li, T. Cheng, Z.U. Rehman, W. Heidrich, T.O. Leiknes
    Journal of Membrane Science, volume 578, pp. 163-171, (2019)
  • Fouling development in direct contact membrane distillation: Non-invasive monitoring and destructive analysis 
    L. Fortunato, Y. Jang, J.-G. Lee, S. Jeong, S. Lee, T.O. Leiknes, N. Ghaffour
    Water Research, volume 132, pp. 34-41, (2018)
  • In-situ assessment of biofilm formation in submerged membrane system using optical coherence tomography and computa... 
    L. Fortunato, A. Qamar, Y. Wang, S. Jeong, T.O. Leiknes
    Journal of Membrane Science, Volume 521, pp. 84-94, (2017)
  • Integrated approach to characterize fouling on a flat sheet membrane gravity driven submerged membrane bioreactor 
    L. Fortunato, S. Jeong, Y. Wang, A.R. Behzad, T.O. Leiknes
    Bioresource Technology 222, pp. 335-343, (2016)
  • Mini-review: novel non-destructive in situ biofilm characterization techniques in membrane systems 
    R. Valladares Linares, L. Fortunato, N.M. Farhat, S.S. Bucs, M. Staal, E.O. Fridjonsson, M...
    Desalination and Water Treatment, pp. 1-8, (2016)
  • Spatially-resolved in-situ quantification of biofouling using optical coherence tomography (OCT) and 3D image analy... 
    L. Fortunato, S.S. Bucs, R. Valladares Linares, C. Cali, J.S. Vrouwenvelder, T.O. Leiknes
    Journal of Membrane Science, Volume 524, pp. 673-681, (2017)
  • Time-resolved monitoring of biofouling development on a flat sheet membrane using optical coherence tomography 
    L. Fortunato, S. Jeong, T.O. Leiknes
    Scientific Reports 7, Article number: 15, (2017)
  • In-situ biofouling assessment in spacer filled channels using optical coherence tomography (OCT): 3D biofilm thickn... 
    L. Fortunato, T.O. Leiknes
    Bioresource Technology, Volume 229, pp. 231-235, (2017)
  • Gravity-driven membrane system for secondary wastewater effluent treatment: Filtration performance and fouling char... 
    Y. Wang, L. Fortunato, S. Jeong, T.O. Leiknes
    Separation and Purification Technology, volume 184, pp. 26-33, (2017)
  • Evaluation of membrane fouling mitigation strategies in an algal membrane photobioreactor (AMPBR) treating secondar... 
    L. Fortunato, A.F. Lamprea, T.O. Leiknes
    Science of The Total Environment, Volume 708, p.134548, (2020)


  •  Ph.D., Environmental Science and Engineering, KAUST, Saudi Arabia, 2017
  •  M.Sc., Chemistry, University of Salerno, Italy, 2011
  •  Research Internship, Leiden University, Netherlands 2010
  •  B.S., Chemistry, University of Salerno, Italy, 2008

Professional Profile

  • 2019 - Present: Research Scientist, WDRC, KAUST, Thuwal, Saudi Arabia
  • 2017-2019: Postdoctoral fellow, WDRC, KAUST, Thuwal, Saudi Arabia
  • 2014-2017: PhD Student, WDRC, KAUST, Thuwal, Saudi Arabia
  • ​2009-2014: Research and analysis, ArsNova sas (Water & Wastewater), Italy

Scientific and Professional Membership

 • International Desalination Association
 • European Membrane Society
 • International Water Association
 • Italian Society of Chemists
 • American Chemical Society


 • Award for the best oral presentation at the 8th International Desalination Workshop 2015
 • Award for the Best Young Scientist Oral Presentation at IBA-AMBRES 2018

KAUST Affiliations

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

Research Interests Keywords

Membrane fouling In-situ monitoring Water Treatment Membrane distillation Desalination