Fouling control in SWRO desalination during harmful algal blooms: A historical review and future developments

Abayomi Babatunde Alayande, Jihun Lim, Jungbin Kim, Seungkwan Hong, Ahmed Saleh Al-Amoudi, Byungsung Park

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

17 Citations (Scopus)


Harmful algal blooms (HABs) are a major barrier to the stable and efficient operation of seawater reverse osmosis (SWRO) desalination plants. Although the intensity varies regionally, the occurrence of HABs impairs plant operation through severe particulate, organic, and biological fouling of both pretreatment and RO systems. As a result, considerable effort has been put into developing and optimizing pre-treatment techniques to mitigate these problems. This study reviews the historical changes and current status of pretreatment applications based on >110 datasets for large SWRO desalination plants. Chronological analysis underscores the increasing trend in the operation of dissolved air flotation and ultrafiltration systems since severe HABs in the Middle East from 2008 to 2009. The impact of HAB characteristics on system performance was also analyzed, and the efficiency of current pretreatment systems for the removal of HABs was evaluated, along with proposals for operational guidelines. Finally, future strategies for i) intelligent monitoring and prediction of HABs, ii) improvement of unit processes for the removal of algal organic matter, and iii) utilization of algal biomass to alleviate environmental impact were systematically delineated for smarter, safer, and greener operation of future SWRO desalination plants in response to the occurrence of HABs.

Original languageEnglish
Article number116094
Publication statusPublished - 2022 Dec 1

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2022 Elsevier B.V.


  • Data analysis
  • Desalination plant operation
  • Future strategies
  • Harmful algal blooms
  • Operational guidelines

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Chemistry
  • General Chemical Engineering
  • General Materials Science
  • Water Science and Technology
  • Mechanical Engineering


Dive into the research topics of 'Fouling control in SWRO desalination during harmful algal blooms: A historical review and future developments'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this