Thumbnail Image

A Comprehensive Review on Membrane Fouling: Mathematical Modelling, Prediction, Diagnosis, and Mitigation

AlSawaftah, Nour Majdi
Abuwatfa, Waad Hussein
Darwish, Naif
Husseini, Ghaleb
Published version
Membrane-based separation has gained increased popularity over the past few decades, particularly reverse osmosis (RO). A major impediment to the improved performance of membrane separation processes, in general, is membrane fouling. Fouling has detrimental effects on the membrane’s performance and integrity, as the deposition and accumulation of foulants on its surface and/or within its pores leads to a decline in the permeate flux, deterioration of selectivity, and permeability, as well as a significantly reduced lifespan. Several factors influence the fouling-propensity of a membrane, such as surface morphology, roughness, hydrophobicity, and material of fabrication. Generally, fouling can be categorized into particulate, organic, inorganic, and biofouling. Efficient prediction techniques and diagnostics are integral for strategizing control, management, and mitigation interventions to minimize the damage of fouling occurrences in the membranes. To improve the antifouling characteristics of RO membranes, surface enhancements by different chemical and physical means have been extensively sought after. Moreover, research efforts have been directed towards synthesizing membranes using novel materials that would improve their antifouling performance. This paper presents a review of the different membrane fouling types, fouling-inducing factors, predictive methods, diagnostic techniques, and mitigation strategies, with a special focus on RO membrane fouling.