Biofilm formation on RO membranes: the impact of seawater pretreatment

Eitan Ben-Dov, Eyal Ben-David, Rami Messalem, Moshe Herzberg, Ariel Kushmaro

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Membrane biofouling is an acute problem that interferes with filtration and pressure-driven desalination processes. In this study, ultrafiltration (UF) and membrane bioreactor (MBR) system were examined for their potential use in the removal of organic matter from seawater as pretreatment for reverse osmosis (RO) desalination. The study showed that MBR treatment equipped with UF decreases total organic carbon, polysaccharides, and biofouling potential of RO membrane in comparison to feed seawater after UF treatment alone. Bacteria in the feed water and in the MBR system were characterized. The most abundant heterotrophic bacteria nourished from organic substances present in the MBR system belonging to the Alphaproteobacteria and Gammaproteobacteria classes increased from ~40% in seawater to ~60% in the MBR. These results indicate that pretreatment using a seawater MBR system can improve RO feed water quality and reduce the biofouling potential of RO membranes.

Original languageAmerican English
Pages (from-to)4741-4748
Number of pages8
JournalDesalination and Water Treatment
Issue number11
StatePublished - 2 Mar 2016


  • Biodegradable organic matter
  • Biofouling
  • Membrane bioreactor
  • Reverse osmosis

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Water Science and Technology
  • Pollution
  • Ocean Engineering


Dive into the research topics of 'Biofilm formation on RO membranes: the impact of seawater pretreatment'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this