A two-dimensional mechanistic model for scaling in spiral wound membrane systems

A. I. Radu, L. Bergwerff, M. C.M. van Loosdrecht, C. Picioreanu

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

48 Scopus citations


A two-dimensional mathematical model integrating fluid flow and solutes mass transport with a particle-based approach for crystal nucleation and growth was developed to study gypsum (CaSO4{dot operator}2H2O) scaling in membrane feed channels. The model is able to describe the generally observed trends for performance decline due to scaling: permeate flux deterioration when constant pressure is applied and trans-membrane pressure increase when a constant permeate flux is set. Model results for precipitation in the feed channel show a gradual increase of precipitated gypsum in the axial direction. The zones around spacer-membrane contacts are most prone to scaling even when the feed water is under-saturated. Simulations highlight the importance of both thermodynamic and kinetic effects on gypsum precipitation for various salinities. Despite having the same degree of saturation of the feed water, variable feed stream compositions result in different amounts of precipitate formed. The numerical results suggest that the degree of saturation of feed water ( DSin) may not be a reliable indicator for precipitate formation in membrane feed channels. Results support the need for considering the dynamics of local flow and solute patterns, combined with ionic activity calculations for understanding mineral precipitation in spiral-wound membrane modules used in desalination. © 2013 Elsevier B.V.
Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)77-91
Number of pages15
JournalChemical Engineering Journal
StatePublished - Apr 1 2014
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

Generated from Scopus record by KAUST IRTS on 2022-09-13

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Environmental Chemistry
  • General Chemical Engineering
  • General Chemistry
  • Industrial and Manufacturing Engineering


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