Coagulation and Ultrafiltration in Seawater Reverse Osmosis Pretreatment: UNESCO-IHE PhD Thesis

This study investigates the role of coagulation in enhancing hydraulic performance and permeate quality of UF membranes and provides insight into options for minimizing or ideally eliminating coagulation from UF pre-treatment to SWRO. Results show that coagulation improves UF hydraulic performance mainly by reducing non-backwashable fouling of the membranes. This can be achieved at very low coagulant dose (~ 0.5 mg Fe/L) by coating the membranes with sub-micron particles. Additionally, the work highlights the applicability of UF membranes with low molecular weight cut-off as the coagulant free future of SWRO pre-treatment. Major benefits in terms of reduced environmental impact is expected when applying membranes with low molecular weight cut-off, as the need for coagulation is eliminated while ensuring longevity of downstream SWRO membranes. In general terms, the research indicates that coagulant consumption can be significantly reduced in UF pre-treatment of SWRO by optimizing operational parameters and applying alternative solutions.