Operational problems in membrane installations used in water treatment can be caused by a variety of fouling types. Therefore, a systematic approach based on the application of an autopsy of membrane elements followed by analysis has been developed, which enables an integral diagnosis of the type and extent of fouling. Analysis includes both biological parameters for biomass quantification (ATP) and biomass characterisation and chemical parameters for determining the presence of inorganic compounds (ICP-MS). Advantages of this approach include: first, complete and conclusive information about the nature and extent of fouling of the membrane filtration plant; and secondly, rapid diagnosis (within 8 hours) of biofouling. In addition to membrane element analysis, also a suite of monitoring tools (AOC test, biofilm monitor, oxygen consumption monitor and scaleguard) is available for elucidation and control of the processes responsible for the fouling problems. These tools can also be used to test chemicals for their effect on (bio)fouling. Research is continuing to substantiate relationships between test parameters and the extent of operational problems.

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