Amorphous aluminosilicate scaling characterization in a reverse osmosis membrane

S. Salvador Cob*, C. Beaupin, B. Hofs, M. M. Nederlof, D. J.H. Harmsen, E. R. Cornelissen, A. Zwijnenburg, F. E. Genceli Güner, G. J. Witkamp

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

10 Citations (Scopus)


This paper describes the results of experiments performed in a high-recovery system to elucidate the silica scaling phenomenon and characterize the scaling. In this research, cation exchange pretreatment is used to reduce Ca2+, Ba2+, and Mg2+ levels to prevent scaling during subsequent nanofiltration (NF) and reverse osmosis (RO) filtration, in which RO is fed with NF concentrate. In a pilot plant, a series of experiments were carried out at a total (NF + RO) recovery of 91, 94, 96 and 98% with locally available tap water as feed water. Autopsy studies were performed with the RO membranes after each experiment. The fouling layer was studied using SEM-EDX, ATR-FTIR and fouling extraction to determine the structure and the composition of the fouling deposits. A thin dense fouling layer was observed, which covered approximately half of the membrane surface, after operating for 20 days at 91 and 94% recovery. At 96 and 98% recovery, the fouling layer was thicker and completely covered the membrane surface. The scaling layer was mainly composed of Si, Al, Fe and O. The amount of Si increased with increasing recovery. To work at these high recoveries for an extended period, further measures need to be taken to prevent silica scaling.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)936-943
Number of pages8
JournalDesalination and Water Treatment
Issue number4-6
Publication statusPublished - 2013
Externally publishedYes


This work was performed in the TTIW-cooperation framework of Wetsus, Centre of Excellence for Sustainable Water Technology ( Wetsus is funded by the Dutch Ministry of Economic Affairs, the European Union Regional Development Fund, the Province of Fryslân, the City of Leeuwarden and the EZ/Kompas program of the “Samenwerkingsverband Noord-Nederland” and by the Joint Research Programme of the Dutch Water Companies. The authors like to thank the participants of the research theme “Clean Water Technology” for the discussions and their financial support. They would specially like to thank Hans Huiting for the fruitful discussions about this project and Kamuran Yasadi for the ATR-FTIR analysis.

FundersFunder number
City of Leeuwarden
Dutch Ministry of Economic Affairs
European Regional Development Fund
Samenwerkingsverband Noord-Nederland


    • Colloidal fouling
    • Concentrate
    • Concentration polarization
    • Membrane fouling
    • Silica scaling


    Dive into the research topics of 'Amorphous aluminosilicate scaling characterization in a reverse osmosis membrane'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

    Cite this