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ACCIONA has launched its WITNESS project with the aim of developing a biological indicator to preventively determine the presence of agents causing fouling in seawater reverse osmosis desalination processes
Fouling in reverse osmosis membranes can severely limit seawater reverse osmosis desalination processes and the fouling of membranes can lead to higher operation pressure which can lead to increased energy consumption, greater complexity in operation and a reduction in the permeate quality.
Current indicators do not allow distinguishing between different fouling types and have limitations regarding representativeness, such as the Silt Density Index (SDI). In addition, current biological indicators include incomplete or biased measurements which prevent from having a complete overview of the fouling potential of a given seawater matrix.
The new indicator developed by ACCIONA will provide a preventive diagnosis to adjust the operating conditions of the desalination plants, in order to minimise fouling and, therefore, its consequences on the desalination process.
Together with other operation indicators of the reverse osmosis stage, the WITNESS indicator will be integrated into an Artificial Intelligence-based fouling potential prediction tool, which will be validated in the innovation facilities of the company.
Likewise, a base case version will be developed and, afterwards, an augmented version of the Artificial Intelligence tool that will allow to carry out predictive estimations of the potential fouling level.