A review of recent literature focuses on the fouling phenomena in membrane systems for desalination, quantification and qualification of parameters related to biological fouling (biofouling), and emerging areas for prevention. In particular, biofouling of seawater reverse osmosis (SWRO) is widely regarded as the most important area for future research on this topic. Reducing membrane fouling is fundamental to seawater treatment but is not well managed. The current state of industry knowledge is evaluated with particular focus on SWRO membrane biofouling, as well as its measurement and mitigation. Specific shortcomings and possible solutions are reviewed regarding the role of assimilable organic carbon, chemical treatment and other components in understanding the fouling process, impacts from pretreatment, level of assimilable nutrients, modeling applications, and real time monitoring. A critical review of recent advances in understanding organic and biological fouling is presented because these are the most difficult to control and least understood.

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