Nanofiltration and Reverse Osmosis in Water Treatment

TU Delft Nanofiltration

Target Audience

Basic knowledge of chemistry, math and physic. High school level.


Membrane filtration using reverse osmosis is a relatively new technology that is increasingly being used in many water related organizations. Did you know for instance that reverse osmosis is now the most important technology for making fresh water out of seawater? For anyone interested in the fascinating world of membrane technology in drinking water production and industrial water treatment, this course will provide you with the fundamental knowledge to better understand the process and its applications. Your dependence on external advisors will be reduced and your ability to make decisions regarding investment and maintenance within the organization will be greatly enhanced.

The main emphasis of the course is on spiral wound modules, which is the most common membrane configuration. During the course, you will learn some theoretical background such as mass balances, rejection, concentration, polarization etc. and will have the chance to engage in practical applications such as designing a reverse osmosis installation with the use of commercial computer programs.
Virtual 3D lab
The course includes several video excursions to functioning reverse osmosis installations. Through these you will experience the operation of a seawater installation, a brackish water installation and an industrial water treatment plant. In addition, you will have access to our own virtual (3D) laboratory experiment with a membrane pilot installation. In this virtual lab, besides gaining immediate hands-on experience with a small reverse osmosis installation, you will be able to perform a “real” lab experiment, gather data and do calculations with the data and draw conclusions regarding concentration, polarization and other operational factors.
A major focus of the course will be the application of these technologies to desalination. Considering the growing needs for freshwater and the increasing need for affordable alternatives, the current trend is to use a desalination technology with the lowest energy consumption. Reverse osmosis membranes form the main energy-saving technology for seawater desalination compared to other desalination techniques.

Learning Objectives

By the end of this course, you will be able to:
-Recognize and classify different types of membranes
-Calculate the mass balances, recovery, rejection, pressure and water quality in a reverse osmosis (RO) installation
-Describe the rejection mechanism of ions and organic compounds in the membrane system
-Explain the advantages and disadvantages of the application of RO
-Explain different application of RO membranes (seawater, brackish water and freshwater)
-Explain different water flows and their routing in a membrane module
-Explain the particulate and biological fouling in the membrane
-Explain the concentration polarization mechanism and scaling problem
-Calculate an RO unit and design a treatment plant including the RO unit as the heart (seawater, brackish or freshwater)