The tendency of solutes in input water to precipitate efficiency lowering scale deposits on the membranes of reverse osmosis (RO) desalination systems is an important factor in determining the suitability of input water for desalination. Simulated input water evaporation can be used as a technique to quantitatively assess the potential for scale formation in RO desalination systems. The technique was demonstrated by simulating the increase in solute concentrations required to form calcite, gypsum, and amorphous silica scales at 25??C and 40??C from 23 desalination input waters taken from the literature. Simulation results could be used to quantitatively assess the potential of a given input water to form scale or to compare the potential of a number of input waters to form scale during RO desalination. Simulated evaporation of input waters cannot accurately predict the conditions under which scale will form owing to the effects of potentially stable supersaturated solutions, solution velocity, and residence time inside RO systems. However, the simulated scale-forming potential of proposed input waters could be compared with the simulated scale-forming potentials and actual scale-forming properties of input waters having documented operational histories in RO systems. This may provide a technique to estimate the actual performance and suitability of proposed input waters during RO.
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Use of simulated evaporation to assess the potential for scale formation during reverse osmosis desalination