Organic compounds and microbial assessment of a seawater reverse osmosis facility at Tampa Bay Water, USA

Natalie J. Harvey, Zahid Ur Rehman, TorOve Leiknes, NorEddine Ghaffour, Hidetoshi Urakawa, Thomas M. Missimer

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

    14 Scopus citations


    The Tampa Bay Water seawater reverse osmosis (SWRO) facility is the first large-capacity seawater desalination plant in the United States. The feedwater source for the facility is an estuarine system that is biologically very productive and contains naturally-occurring high concentrations of algae, marine bacteria, total organic carbon (mostly dissolved), transparent exopolymer particles (TEP), the biopolymer fraction of natural organic matter, and phosphate. The high-organic composition of the feedwater places stress on the conventional sand pretreatment system utilized at the facility resulting in high organic passage into the membrane process and flow through into the permeate. In particular, the direct passage of particulate TEP (p-TEP) into the membranes has a major impact on the biofouling rate. Based on the data collected, the pretreatment is ineffective at removing key organic components that impact the rate of membrane biofouling, particularly bacteria and p-TEP. Perhaps the pretreatment could be re-designed to use a dissolved air floatation system (DAF) followed by ultrafiltration as a remedy that would likely move the biofouling problem to the ultrafiltration process, which has an easier cleaning process. Consideration could be given to using a groundwater source of feedwater as a permanent remedy to the operational issues.
    Original languageEnglish (US)
    StatePublished - 2020

    Bibliographical note

    KAUST Repository Item: Exported on 2020-10-01
    Acknowledgements: Funding for this research was provided by the Emergent Technology Institute, U. A. Whitaker College of Engineering, Florida Gulf Coast University in Fort Myers, Florida. The research reported in this paper was also supported by the Water Desalination and Reuse Center at King Abdullah University of Science and Technology (KAUST), Saudi Arabia. The authors thank Tampa Bay Water for allowing monthly sample collections at the desalination plant and donating their time and effort into this project. The authors would like to thank Dr. Abdullah Dahwah and Haruka E. Urakawa for contributing their efforts into this research as well with their expertise in TEP methodology and nutrient analysis, respectively.


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