The effect of feed salinity on the biofouling dynamics of seawater desalination.

Hui Ling Yang*, Jill R. Pan, Ch-Hpin Huang, Justin Chun Te Lin

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Scopus citations


A persistent cell labeling dye and a novel microbial counting method were used to explore the effects of salinity on a microbial population in a reverse osmosis (RO) desalination system, and these clearly distinguished microbial cell multiplication from cell adherence. The results indicated that microbial multiplication is more active at the front of a seawater RO pressure vessel, while adhesion dominates the back of the vessel. A severe reduction in RO permeate flux and total dissolved solid (TDS) rejection were detected at low salinity, attributed to marked cell multiplication and release of extracellular polymeric substances, whilst a relatively stable flux was observed at medium and high salinity. The results from PCR-DGGE revealed the variation in microbial species distribution on the membrane with salinity. The results imply the critical role of membrane modification in biofouling mitigation in the desalination process.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)561-567
Number of pages7
Issue number5
StatePublished - 1 May 2011

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