Reverse osmosis (RO) technology offers a solution to the shortage of pristine water resources worldwide, through its capacity for treating all kinds of water, such as seawater, wastewater, ground water, and surface water.
The main concern in using RO technology for water treatment is the problem of fouling, and in particular biofouling. Biofouling negatively affects the quality of RO product, and makes RO a costly technology for water treatment.
The key solution to reduce the risk of biofouling in an RO system lies in understanding the process of biofouling formation, choosing an adequate biofilm monitoring technique, and applying effective biofouling control treatment for the RO membrane system.
In this paper, Australian researchers illustrate the mechanisms of microbial adhesion to the RO membrane, along with the key factors that influence the microbial adhesion process.
In addition, common strategies for biofilm monitoring in water flow systems – including microscopy, spectroscopy, and other techniques – are reviewed, with applications, advantages and disadvantages highlighted for each strategy.
The common biofouling control methods for reducing the formation of biofouling in RO systems are also presented.
The researchers propose the application of environmentally friendly physical disinfection techniques for biofouling control in RO membrane systems.