Online Course on Desalination and Membrane Technology

This course provides theoretical and practical knowledge on the design and operation of reverse osmosis systems applied in desalination of seawater and brackish water. Specific topics such as membrane fouling, scaling, and cleaning are dealt with in detail, including pre-treatment options and the latest developments in monitoring and controlling fouling.

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For whom?

The course targets professionals in water treatment companies, consulting agencies, ministries, and equipment suppliers. Preferably participants should have a background on: civil, chemical, environmental, or sanitary engineering.


BSc or MSc in chemical, civil, environmental engineering.

Experience in treatment on drinking water and industrial water.

Basic knowledge of chemistry, microbiology, hydraulics, water treatment will help the participants to get the best out of the course.

Dates, Fee, ECTS

Start: 05 September 2022
End: 13 January 2023
Duration: 18 weeks
ECTS credit points: 5
Deadline IHE application: 04 September 2022 - 23.59 (CET)
Course fee: € 1065

Start: 04 September 2023
End: 12 January 2024
Deadline IHE application: 27 August 2023 - 23.59 (CET)
Course fee: € 1065

VAT is not included in the course fee

Learning objectives

Upon completion, the participant should be able to:
  1. To explain the role and limitations of desalination technologies in alleviating water scarcity.
  2. To apply the basic principles and process operation of ultrafiltration and microfiltration in drinking water treatment.
  3. To design a sea water reverse osmosis plant including membrane pre-treatment.
  4. To identify the pre-treatment and post-treatment processes required to meet reverse osmosis design guidelines depending on raw water (surface, ground or wastewater) quality and desired permeate quality in potable and industrial applications.
  5. To apply water quality methods and models to monitor and predict fouling in reverse osmosis and MF/UF systems.

Course content

The course covers the following subjects:


  • Desalination and membrane related technologies.
  • Water sources, applications, capacities and cost.

Ultra- and microfiltration

  • Principles. Membrane materials, pore size, flux, normalizing permeability, and fouling mechanisms.
  • Overview ultra- and micro-filtration elements and systems.
  • Fouling in MF/UF systems, fouling control and pre-treatment.

Reverse osmosis (and nano-filtration)

  • Principles. Flux, salt passage, rejection and concentration polarization.
  • Overview of RO and NF membranes and elements. Single and multiple staging.
  • Summarizing process design of RO systems with spiral wound elements.
  • Osmotic pressure, Net driving pressure.
  • Permeate quality and flux.
  • Normalizing data in RO and NF systems in practice.
  • Fouling in RO and NF systems. Spacer and bundle fouling.
  • Suspended and colloidal matter, iron and manganese, biofouling, organic fouling and scaling.
  • Particulate fouling and pre-treatment (Fouling due to suspended and colloidal matter. Mechanisms of fouling. Parameters to predict fouling. SDI/MFI (0.45) and MFI-UF. Value of fouling predictions with SDI/MFI (0.45) in RO/NF and UF systems.)
  • Fouling due to algae and Transparent exo polymers in RO/NF and UF systems.
  • Pre-treatment in practice for removal of suspended and colloidal matter for RO/NF.
  • Bio-fouling and pre-treatment
  • Pre-treatment for bio-fouling, principles, parameters AOC and BDOC, membrane fouling simulator, biocides.
  • Fouling due to organic matter. Oil compounds, anti-scalants and coagulant aids.
  • Scaling and anti-scalants (Principles of scaling and prediction with computer program. Manual calculations of scaling due to silica, calcium, barium strontium sulphate and calcium fluoride.)
  • Calculation of the Stiff and Davis Index to predict scaling of calcium carbonate (Scaling in seawater reverse osmosis. Scaling control, monitoring and anti-scalants.)


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