Assessment of Silt Density Index (SDI) as Fouling Propensity Parameter in Reverse Osmosis Desalination

  • Rinaldi Rachman

Student thesis: Master's Thesis


Reverse osmosis operations are facing persistent fouling phenomenon that has challenged the integrity of these processes. Prediction of fouling potential by measuring a fouling index toward feed water is essential to ensure robust operation. Moreover, employing a reliable fouling index with good reproducibility and precision is necessary. Silt density index (SDI) is considered insufficient in terms of reliability and empirical theory, among other limitations. Nevertheless due its simplicity, SDI measurement is utilized extensively in RO desalination systems. The aim of this research is to assess the reliability of SDI. Methods include the investigation of different SDI membranes and study of the nature of the SDI filtration. Results demonstrate the existence of the membrane properties' variation within manufacturers, which then causes a lack of accuracy in fouling risk estimation. The nature of particles during SDI filtration provides information that particle concentration and size play a significant role on SDI quantification with substantial representation given by particles with size close to membrane nominal pore size. Moreover, turbidity assisted SDI measurements along with determination of UF pretreated and clean water fouling potential, establishes the indication of non-fouling related phenomena involved on SDI measurement such as a natural organic matter adsorption and hydrodynamic condition that alters during filtration. Additionally, it was found that the latter affects the sensitivity of SDI by being represented by some portions of SDI value. Keywords: Reverse Osmosis, Fouling index, Particulate Fouling, Silt Density Index (SDI), and Assessment of SDI.
Date of AwardJul 2011
Original languageEnglish (US)
Awarding Institution
  • Biological, Environmental Sciences and Engineering
SupervisorNorEddine Ghaffour (Supervisor)


  • Reverse Osmosis
  • Fouling index
  • Particulate fouling
  • Silt Density Index (SDI)
  • Assessment of SDI

Cite this