About this online course


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Membrane filtration using reverse osmosis is a technology that is increasingly being used in many water related organizations. Did you know for instance that reverse osmosis is now the most important technology for making fresh water out of seawater? For anyone interested in the fascinating world of membrane technology in drinking water production and industrial water treatment, this course will provide you with the fundamental knowledge to better understand the process and its applications. Your dependence on external advisors will be reduced and your ability to make decisions regarding investment and maintenance within the organization will be greatly enhanced.

Practical applications
The main emphasis of the course is on spiral wound modules, which is the most common membrane configuration. During the course, you will learn some theoretical background such as mass balances, rejection, concentration, polarization etc. and will have the chance to engage in practical applications such as designing a reverse osmosis installation with the use of commercial computer programs.

Virtual 3D lab

The course includes several video excursions to functioning reverse osmosis installations. Through these you will experience the operation of a seawater installation, a brackish water installation and an industrial water treatment plant. In addition, you will have access to our own virtual (3D) laboratory experiment with a membrane pilot installation. In this virtual lab, besides gaining immediate hands-on experience with a small reverse osmosis installation, you will be able to perform a "real" lab experiment, gather data and do calculations with the data and draw conclusions regarding concentration, polarization and other operational factors.

Desalination techniques
A major focus of the course will be the application of these technologies to desalination. Considering the growing needs for freshwater and the increasing need for affordable alternatives, the current trend is to use a desalination technology with the lowest energy consumption. Reverse osmosis membranes form the main energy-saving technology for seawater desalination compared to other desalination techniques.

By the end of this course, you will be able to:

  • Recognize and classify different types of membranes
  • Calculate the mass balances, recovery, rejection, pressure and water quality in a reverse osmosis (RO) installation
  • Describe the rejection mechanism of ions and organic compounds in the membrane system
  • Explain the advantages and disadvantages of the application of RO
  • Explain different application of RO membranes (seawater, brackish water and freshwater)
  • Explain different water flows and their routing in a membrane module
  • Explain the particulate and biological fouling in the membrane
  • Explain the concentration polarization mechanism and scaling problem
  • Calculate an RO unit and design a treatment plant including the RO unit as the heart (seawater, brackish or freshwater)

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Course Syllabus

Week 1: The basics
Introduction to the basic concepts of membrane technology including advantages and disadvantages, classification, importance and difficulties in application. Basic calculations related to RO membranes such as mass balance, recovery, rejection, permeate quality, etc.

Week 2: Desalination with reverse osmosis
Examines the trend of using RO in desalination (seawater RO) and includes a virtual excursion to an RO seawater desalination plant on board a ship.

Week 3: Application of reverse osmosis in brackish water treatment
What does a brackish water plant look like (high recovery with staging)? Virtual video excursion to a brackish water plant.

Week 4: Fouling: scaling and particulate fouling
What causes fouling? What is concentration polarization? What pre-treatment is needed before RO can be applied?

Week 5: Application of RO on freshwater and production of demi water for industry
Removal of micro pollutants and pathogens with RO. The importance of the application of RO in the production of water for industry.

Week 6: Fouling: biofouling
Explaining the biofouling mechanism and its relation to the configuration of spiral wound modules.

Week 7: Design of an RO unit
Making potable water from RO-permeate (post-treatment). Environmental issues related to the application of RO. Designing an RO unit using a commercial computer program.

The course is open 24 hours a day so you can access the discussion forums and the course materials anytime. There are no fixed times, all communication will be asynchronous except for a small number of activities and assignments which will have weekly deadlines. Our courses encourage you to learn with and from others. Since we would like you to experience all the benefits of online collaboration and peer-feedback, we encourage our learners to keep in contact with other participants throughout the course.



If you successfully complete this course you will earn a professional education certificate and you are eligible to receive 3.0 Continuing Education Units (CEUs).

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This course is primarily geared towards working professionals.

Expected prior knowledge

Basic knowledge of chemistry, math and physic. High school level.

In order to complete your enrollment you will be asked to upload the following document:

  • a copy of your passport or ID card (no driver's license)


If you have any questions about this course or the TU Delft online learning environment, please visit our Help & Support page.

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  • Start date
    Apr 10, 2019
  • Admission Deadline
    Apr 10, 2019
  • Cost
    € 495
  • Course length
    7 weeks
  • Estimated effort
    4 - 5 hours per week
  • Course code

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