Nano-colloidal fouling mechanisms in seawater reverse osmosis process evaluated by cake resistance simulator-modified fouling index nanofiltration

Younggil Ju, Seungkwan Hong

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

28 Citations (Scopus)


Fouling potentials caused by particulate matters are generally evaluated by fouling index, such as SDI and MFI, widely used in RO membrane practices. However, these fouling indices failed to predict the effect of nano-colloidal sizes on flux decline, implying that colloidal fouling is too complex to be analyzed by simple fouling index. Thus, in this study, nano-colloidal fouling mechanism in seawater reverse osmosis (SWRO) desalination was fundamentally investigated by employing new approach. Specifically, the specific cake resistance of colloidal foulants was first determined by a novel method, cake resistance simulator-modified fouling index nanofiltration (MFI-NFCRS), which was conducted under operating pressure and solute environment similar to those of real SWRO desalination. Then colloidal deposition and resulting cake-enhanced osmotic pressure (CEOP) were quantitatively assessed by fitting RO experimental data to the calculations from the CEOP model. The results clearly demonstrated that the flux decline caused colloidal deposition in the SWRO process depended greatly on the CEOP. The newly developed methodology including MFI-NFCRS is expected to contribute significantly to better understand nano-colloidal fouling mechanisms and to accurately predict their fouling potentials in the SWRO desalination.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)88-96
Number of pages9
Publication statusPublished - 2014 Jun 16

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
The authors would like to thank the Ministry of Land, Infrastructure and Transport (Code# 07seaHEROB02-01) for supporting this study through the Seawater Engineering & Architecture of High-Efficiency Reverse Osmosis (SEAHERO) program and this work is also supported by Doosan Heavy Industries and Construction for the projects, ‘Development of Fouling Index Using MMAS and Manual for Application of Pilot Plant’.


  • Cake resistance simulator-modified fouling index nanofiltration
  • Cake-enhanced osmotic pressure (CEOP)
  • Colloidal deposition
  • Fouling index
  • Nano-colloidal fouling mechanism
  • Seawater reverse osmosis (SWRO) desalination

ASJC Scopus subject areas

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


Dive into the research topics of 'Nano-colloidal fouling mechanisms in seawater reverse osmosis process evaluated by cake resistance simulator-modified fouling index nanofiltration'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this