This pilot study investigates the formation of aggregates within a desalination plant, before and after pre-treatment, as well as their potential impact on fouling. The objective is to provide an understanding of the biofouling potential of the feed water within a seawater reverse osmosis (SWRO) desalination plant, due to the limited removal of fouling precursors. The 16S and 18S rRNA was extracted from the water samples, and the aggregates and sequenced. Pre-treatment systems, within the plant remove < 5 µm precursors and organisms; however, smaller size particles progress through the plant, allowing for the formation of aggregates. These become hot spots for microbes, due to their nutrient gradients, facilitating the formation of niche environments, supporting the proliferation of those organisms. Aggregate-associated organisms are consistent with those identified on fouled SWRO membranes. This study examines, for the first time, the factors supporting the formation of aggregates within a desalination system, as well as their microbial communities and biofouling potential.
- marine snow
- seawater reverse osmosis