Assessing pretreatment and seawater reverse osmosis performance using an ATP-based bacterial growth potential method

Motasem Abushaban, Sergio G. Salinas-Rodriguez, Nirajan Dhakal, Jan C. Schippers, Maria D. Kennedy

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

12 Citations (Scopus)
65 Downloads (Pure)


Various bacterial growth potential (BGP) methods have been developed recently to monitor biofouling in seawater reverse osmosis (SWRO) systems such as assimilable organic carbon and bacterial regrowth potential. However, the relationship between these methods and biofouling in SWRO desalination plants has not yet been demonstrated. In this research, an attempt is made to investigate if a correlation exists between BGP of SWRO feed water and the chemical cleaning frequency in SWRO plants using an ATP-based BGP method employing an indigenous microbial consortium. Using ATP-based BGP method at 5 different seawater locations showed low variations of bacterial yield. The BGP method was applied to assess the pretreatment performance of three full-scale SWRO plants with different pretreatment processes. Dual media filtration (DMF) showed the highest BGP removal (>50%) in two SWRO plants. Removal of BGP and hydrophilic organic carbon in dissolved air floatation combined with ultrafiltration was similar to the removal achieved with DMF in combination with inline coagulation. For the three SWRO plants investigated, a higher BGP in SWRO feed water corresponded to a higher chemical cleaning frequency. However, more data is required to confirm if a real correlation exists between BGP and biofouling in SWRO plants.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)210-218
Number of pages9
Publication statusPublished - 2019


  • Adenosine triphosphate
  • Assimilable organic carbon
  • Bacterial growth potential
  • Biofouling
  • Seawater reverse osmosis


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