Surface characterization and performance evaluation of commercial fouling resistant low-pressure RO membranes

David Norberg, Seungkwan Hong, James Taylor, Yu Zhao

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

83 Citations (Scopus)


This paper describes the characterization and evaluation of various RO/NF membranes for the treatment of seasonally brackish surface water with high organic contents (TOC ≈21 mg/L). Twenty commercially available RO and NF membranes were initially evaluated by performing controlled bench-scale flat-sheet tests and surface characterization. Based on the results, four low pressure RO membranes were selected for use in the pilot study. The surface characterization revealed that each of four selected membranes had unique surface characteristics to minimize membrane fouling. Specifically, the LFC1 membrane featured a neutral or low negative surface to minimize electrostatic interactions with charged foulants. The X20 showed a highly negatively charged surface, and thus, was expected to perform well with feed waters containing negatively charged organics and colloids. The BW30FR1 exhibited a relatively neutral and hydrophilic surface, which could be beneficial for lessening organic and/or biofouling. The SG membrane had a smooth surface that made it quite resistant to fouling, particularly for colloidal deposition. In the large-scale pilot study using single element, all of the four membranes experienced a gradual increase in specific flux over time, indicating no fouling occurred during the pilot study. The deterioration of permeate water quality such as TDS was also observed over time, suggesting that the integrity of the membranes might be compromised by the monochloramine used for biofouling control.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)45-52
Number of pages8
Issue number1-3
Publication statusPublished - 2007 Jan 5


  • Hydrophobicity
  • Membrane fouling
  • RO membranes
  • Surface charge
  • Surface roughness
  • Surface water treatment

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Chemistry(all)
  • Chemical Engineering(all)
  • Materials Science(all)
  • Water Science and Technology
  • Mechanical Engineering


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