Silica fouling in high salinity waters in reverse osmosis desalination (sodium–silica system)
Silica fouling patterns in a sodium–silica system and the effect of pH on residual dissolved silica concentrations are reported. The unique chemical affinity between sodium and silica (SO4) prevented silica scale deposition on the membrane surface during reverse osmosis (RO) desalination. It was found that high concentrations of sodium in solutions depressed silica solubility to 81–84 mg L−1 for a maximum NaCl salinity of 60–65 g L−1. Using a range of membrane examination techniques, it was found that no silica scale formed on the RO membrane surfaces from NaCl solutions free from cations such as Ca, Al and Fe. This was considered to be the result of sodium ions acting as a barrier between polymeric silica and the membrane surface.