Full-scale simulation of seawater reverse osmosis desalination processes for boron removal: Effect of membrane fouling

Pyung Kyu Park, Sangho Lee, Jae Seok Cho, Jae Hong Kim

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52 Citations (Scopus)


The objective of this study is to further develop previously reported mechanistic predictive model that simulates boron removal in full-scale seawater reverse osmosis (RO) desalination processes to take into account the effect of membrane fouling. Decrease of boron removal and reduction in water production rate by membrane fouling due to enhanced concentration polarization were simulated as a decrease in solute mass transfer coefficient in boundary layer on membrane surface. Various design and operating options under fouling condition were examined including single- versus double-pass configurations, different number of RO elements per vessel, use of RO membranes with enhanced boron rejection, and pH adjustment. These options were quantitatively compared by normalizing the performance of the system in terms of Emin, the minimum energy costs per product water. Simulation results suggested that most viable options to enhance boron rejection among those tested in this study include: i) minimizing fouling, ii) exchanging the existing SWRO elements to boron-specific ones, and iii) increasing pH in the second pass. The model developed in this study is expected to help design and optimization of the RO processes to achieve the target boron removal at target water recovery under realistic conditions where membrane fouling occurs during operation.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)3796-3804
Number of pages9
JournalWater Research
Issue number12
Publication statusPublished - 2012 Aug

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This research was supported by the Seawater Engineering & Architecture of High Efficiency Reverse Osmosis (SeaHero) project by Korean Ministry of Land , Transport and Maritime Affairs and the Korean National Science Foundation under Grant Number CMMI-0644837 . It was also partially supported by GS Engineering & Construction, Inc .

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Water Science and Technology
  • Ecological Modelling
  • Pollution
  • Waste Management and Disposal
  • Environmental Engineering
  • Civil and Structural Engineering


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