Skip to main content Skip to navigation

CEE Graduate Seminar

About the event

Fouling and scaling control in membrane-based desalination processes.

Presented by  François Perreault, Ph.D. School of Sustainable Engineering and the Built Environment, Arizona State University


Membrane fouling, which can be of organic, inorganic, or biological origins, is a major challenge in all membrane-based separation processes. Fouling and scaling are particularly challenging in desalination processes due to the high concentrations of salts and organics found in the water as well as the low tolerance of desalination membranes to chemical cleaning. In this presentation, we will present novel functional coatings and membrane designs that can mitigate fouling and scaling in membrane-based desalination, focusing on two different membrane systems: reverse osmosis and membrane distillation. First, the use of nanotechnology to enable low-fouling or self-cleaning membrane surfaces will be discussed. Material selection and design will be discussed based on a safe-by-design framework, with specific examples on how to tailor graphene-based materials for enhanced performance and reduced potential risks. Then, we will address how nanotechnology can be used to enable sustainable and off-grid water treatment, using solar energy to mitigate energy costs or reactive surfaces for fouling control. The broader implications of these different applications will be discussed in relationship with the current need for novel water treatment solutions for increased water security.


François Perreault is an Assistant Professor in the School of Sustainable Engineering and the Built Environment at Arizona State University. He completed his Ph.D. in Environmental Sciences at the University of Quebec in Montreal and was a NSERC postdoctoral fellow in the Department of Chemical and Environmental Engineering at Yale University. His research, which was recognized by the Emerging Investigator Award of the Sustainable Nanotechnology Organization and the Quentin Mees Research Award from the Arizona Water Association, explores the sustainable use of nanotechnology for environmental applications, with a focus on bio-nano interactions, biofouling control, and membrane-based water treatment. He has authored >60 peer-reviewed publications and received the “Best Paper Awards” from Environmental Science and Technology Letter in 2014. He currently serves as a co-Thrust Leader for the fouling and scaling control Thrust in the NSF-funded Nanotechnology-Enabled Water Treatment Engineering Research Center.