The RED Fouling Monitor: A novel tool for fouling analysis

E.J. Bodner, M. Saakes, T. Sleutels, C.J.N. Buisman, H.V.M. Hamelers*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

9 Citations (Scopus)


RED is a technology for harvesting energy using the salinity gradient between river (RW) and seawater (SW). Membrane fouling can decrease the net power density. Fouling inhibition might be indispensable. For implementing antifouling strategies more detailed insights upon fouling are required. In RED stacks investigations of single membranes are practically impossible. We introduce the RED Fouling Monitor, in which one side of a single ion-exchange membrane in contact to a foulant-containing feed stream can be studied under OCV and current conditions. Fouling is detectable in four configurations: (1) SW/AEM, (2) RW/AEM, (3) SW/CEM and (4) RW/CEM. Functionality is provided by a novel flow-through salt bridge enabling ionic connection and the incorporation of reference electrodes in close proximity to the membrane surface. The results indicate a stable, reproducible performance under un-fouled conditions. Upon SDBS exposure RW/AEM fouling showed a more pronounced fouling response than SW/AEM fouling. Fouling is partly attributable to the current density and the current field direction. An irreversible, internal fouling of the AEM is indicated when exposed to SDBS in SW. RW/AEM fouling shows to be reversible. With prospect to future systematic investigations this tool can be used to test various configurational, operational designs, different pre-treatment schemes and the fouling potential of feed streams at different seasons. This will result in valuable insights for new constructional sites for future RED plants.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)294-302
JournalJournal of Membrane Science
Publication statusPublished - 15 Jan 2019


  • Fouling analysis
  • Ion-exchange membranes
  • Organic fouling
  • RED Fouling Monitor
  • Salinity gradient


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