Feed water pretreatment in RO systems: Unit processes in the Middle East

Abulbasher M. Shahalam*, Ali Al-Harthy, Alaa Al-Zawhry

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

46 Citations (Scopus)


The paper deals with the conventional physical, chemical and biological unit processes that are widely applied in the Middle East for treating feedwater to reverse osmosis (RO) systems which produce potable water from brackish groundwater and saline seawater. Depending on the quality of intake water, membrane process, postreatment and desired quality of product water, a pretreatment system was designed. Such a system usually comprises a train of unit processes based on technical and cost considerations. Proper decision for selecting unit processes involves a thorough evaluation of available alternatives. Results of previous experiences and present guidelines and schemes that are developed combining unit processes for pretreatment of RO feed are reviewed. Through the process, the combination of pretreatment units is made in such a way so that the quality of feedwater is improved at a minimal cost for pretreatment and with minimal adverse effects on succeeding processes: membranes, storage and supply systems. Conceptual layouts of several such systems of alternatives are presented along with comparative data on expected system performance and cost.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)235-245
Number of pages11
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - Nov 10 2002


  • Alternatives
  • Cost
  • Groundwater
  • Pretreatment
  • Processes
  • Reverse osmosis
  • Seawater

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Chemistry
  • General Chemical Engineering
  • General Materials Science
  • Water Science and Technology
  • Mechanical Engineering


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