Pretreatment in Reverse Osmosis Seawater Desalination: A Short Review

Valavala, Ramesh;Sohn, Jin-Sik;Han, Ji-Hee;Her, Nam-Guk;Yoon, Yeo-Min

  • Received : 2010.12.30
  • Accepted : 2011.11.23
  • Published : 2011.12.31


Reverse osmosis (RO) technology has developed over the past 40 years to control a 44% market share in the world desalting production capacity and an 80% share in the total number of desalination plants installed worldwide. The application of conventional and low-pressure membrane pretreatment processes to seawater RO (SWRO) desalination has undergone accelerated development over the past decade. Reliable pretreatment techniques are required for the successful operation of SWRO processes, since a major issue is membrane fouling associated with particulate matter/colloids, organic/inorganic compounds, and biological growth. While conventional pretreatment processes such as coagulation and granular media filtration have been widely used for SWRO, there has been an increased tendency toward the use of ultrafiltration/microfiltration (UF/MF) instead of conventional treatment techniques. The literature shows that both the conventional and the UF/MF membrane pretreatment processes have different advantages and disadvantages. This review suggests that, depending on the feed water quality conditions, the suitable integration of multiple pretreatment processes may be considered valid since this would utilize the benefits of each separate pretreatment.


Coagulation;Desalination;Low-pressure membrane;Pretreatment;Reverse osmosis


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