Reverse osmosis pretreatment technologies and future trends: A comprehensive review

Shaheen Fatima Anis, Raed Hashaikeh, Nidal Hilal

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review


Recent progress in reverse osmosis (RO) technology is not limited to RO membrane materials, module designs and RO process optimization. It involves prior feed treatment which directly impacts RO system performance. The ongoing challenges of membrane fouling in RO membranes can be addressed by increasing the operational efficiency through the use of correct pretreatment options which can mitigate organic and inorganic fouling by selectively rejecting contaminants prior to reaching the RO unit. Highly polluted water resources have put critical stress on the existing conventional pretreatment techniques, whereby membrane pretreatment has emerged as a promising alternative. This paper provides an overview of the development and current trends in conventional and non-conventional RO pretreatment techniques whereby the techniques are critically reviewed to inform readers of potential improvements in such areas. This paper addresses the major drawbacks of conventional pretreatment methods which have necessitated the use of membrane pretreatment techniques. Special attention is given to microfiltration, ultrafiltration and nanofiltration methods and their development in terms of advanced membrane materials based on ceramics and self-cleaning membranes. Studies from laboratory scale standalone systems, pilot scale and large scale integrated systems for performance, cost and ecological analysis have been reviewed to familiarize readers with the many factors which need to be analyzed for selection of the appropriate pretreatment method(s). The critical review in this paper will help researchers focus more on the areas which have room for further development for cost-effective and advanced RO pretreatment techniques.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)159-195
Number of pages37
StatePublished - Feb 15 2019


  • Desalination
  • Membranes
  • Pretreatment
  • Reverse osmosis

ASJC Scopus subject areas

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


Dive into the research topics of 'Reverse osmosis pretreatment technologies and future trends: A comprehensive review'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this