Combined biofouling and scaling in membrane feed channels: a new modeling approach

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

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

25 Scopus citations


A mathematical model was developed for combined fouling due to biofilms and mineral precipitates in membrane feed channels with spacers. Finite element simulation of flow and solute transport in two-dimensional geometries was coupled with a particle-based approach for the development of a composite (cells and crystals) foulant layer. Three fouling scenarios were compared: biofouling only, scaling only and combined fouling. Combined fouling causes a quicker flux decline than the summed flux deterioration when scaling and biofouling act independently. The model results indicate that the presence of biofilms leads to more mineral formation due to: (1) an enhanced degree of saturation for salts next to the membrane and within the biofilm; and (2) more available surface for nucleation to occur. The impact of biofilm in accelerating gypsum precipitation depends on the composition of the feed water (eg the presence of NaCl) and the kinetics of crystal nucleation and growth. Interactions between flow, solute transport and biofilm-induced mineralization are discussed.
Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)83-100
Number of pages18
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 2 2015
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

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

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Applied Microbiology and Biotechnology
  • Water Science and Technology
  • Aquatic Science


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