Scaling and fouling in membrane distillation for desalination applications: A review

David M. Warsinger, Jaichander Swaminathan, Elena Guillen-Burrieza, Hassan A. Arafat, John H. Lienhard V

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

652 Scopus citations


Membrane distillation (MD) has become an area of rapidly increasing research and development since the 1990s, providing a potentially cost effective thermally-driven desalination technology when paired with waste heat, solar thermal or geothermal heat sources. One principal challenge for MD is scaling and fouling contamination of the membrane, which has gained growing attention in the literature recently as well. The present paper surveys the published literature on MD membrane fouling. The goal of this work is to synthesize the key fouling conditions, fouling types, harmful effects, and mitigation techniques to provide a basis for future technology development. The investigation includes physical, thermal and flow conditions that affect fouling, types of fouling, mechanisms of fouling, fouling differences by sources of water, system design, effects of operating parameters, prevention, cleaning, membrane damage, and future trends. Finally, numerical modeling of the heat and mass transfer processes has been used to calculate the saturation index at the MD membrane interface and is used to better understand and explain some of trends reported in literature.

Original languageBritish English
Pages (from-to)294-313
Number of pages20
StatePublished - 5 Jan 2015


  • Biofouling
  • Fouling
  • Membrane cleaning
  • Membrane distillation
  • Scale mitigation
  • Scaling


Dive into the research topics of 'Scaling and fouling in membrane distillation for desalination applications: A review'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this