Reverse osmosis (RO) has successfully emerged as a broadly-used commercial water purification technology in recent decades. Nevertheless, RO membrane elements, the core component of this purification process, are frequently subjected to premature degradation and performance deterioration, adversely impacting RO plant operation & maintenance. Membrane autopsy is a well-proven yet under-valued procedure for effectively assessing the condition of membranes and determining the root-cause of performance loss. This paper aims to provide a general methodology utilized commercially to perform membrane autopsy and employ three case studies to explicitly demonstrate the value addition to operators and end-users when applying membrane autopsy in (1) failure analysis and trouble-shooting, (2) operation optimization and routine monitoring, and (3) asset management and maintenance enhancement.

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