Impact of marine organisms on the functioning of a SWRO desalination plant

Author: Tamar Jamieson

Jamieson, Tamar, 2022 Impact of marine organisms on the functioning of a SWRO desalination plant, Flinders University, College of Science and Engineering

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The ability to produce fresh potable water is an ever-growing challenge, especially with an increase in drought conditions worldwide. Due to its capacity to treat different types of water, reverse osmosis (RO) technology is an increasingly popular solution to the water shortage problem. The major restriction associated with the treatment of water by RO technology is the fouling of the RO membrane, in particular through biofouling. With new Membrane fouling is a multifaceted problem that causes an increase in operating pressure, frequent cleaning, and limited membrane lifespan. Multiple consequences of membrane fouling are known including permeate flux and salt rejection. This research thesis uses the Penneshaw desalination plant (Kangaroo Island, South Australia) to study the phenomenon of biofouling. The fouling potential of the organisms within the plant was examined. As well as the link between organisms and the production of pre-cursors. Furthermore, it investigates the advantageous nature of pre-cursors for microbes within the system in relation to biofouling potential. Finally, changes in EPS and eDNA production was assessed of potential biofouling organisms. Overall, this study uses innovative approaches for studying organisms in relation to their biofouling potential and provides important information for the management of a seawater RO desalination plant.

Keywords: Biofouling, Reverse osmosis, Pre-treatment, Desalination, SWRO, prokaryotic, eukaryotic

Subject: Biological Sciences thesis

Thesis type: Doctor of Philosophy
Completed: 2022
School: College of Science and Engineering
Supervisor: Sophie Leterme