Synergistic control of membrane biofouling using linoleic acid and sodium hypochlorite

So Young Ham, Han Shin Kim, Yongsun Jang, Hwa Soo Ryoo, Jeong Hoon Lee, Jeong Hoon Park, Hee Deung Park

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

9 Citations (Scopus)


Biofouling is a major operational problem in the reverse osmosis (RO) process, affecting the membrane performance. Although sodium hypochlorite (NaOCl) is used to chemically clean the biofouled membranes, high concentrations of NaOCl cause morphological and chemical damage to the RO membrane. The objective of this study is to enhance chemical cleaning efficiency by combining with a dispersion agent (linoleic acid, LA) that does not harm the RO membrane, to overcome the disadvantages of NaOCl. Biofilm cells were initially dispersed with LA treatment and biofouled layers were subsequently cleaned using NaOCl at low concentration. The optimized combination resulted in 3.9–4.4 times higher flux recovery efficiency than that with individual treatments. Furthermore, the combination decreased the volume and thickness of the biofilm as well as the amount of extracellular polymeric substances. Taken together, the combined treatment of LA and NaOCl significantly improves RO biofouling control.

Original languageEnglish
Article number128802
Publication statusPublished - 2021 Apr

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This work was supported by the Korea Environment Industry & Technology Institute ( KEITI ) through Subsurface Environmental Management (SEM) Projects funded by Korea Ministry of Environment (MOE) ( 1485016734 ).

Publisher Copyright:
© 2020 Elsevier Ltd


  • Biofilm dispersion
  • Biofouling control
  • Chemical cleaning
  • Membrane process

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Environmental Engineering
  • General Chemistry
  • Environmental Chemistry
  • Pollution
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health
  • Health, Toxicology and Mutagenesis


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