Analysis of an osmotically-enhanced dewatering process for the treatment of highly saline (waste)waters

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Journal Article
Journal of Membrane Science, 2018, pp. 685 - 693
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© 2017 Elsevier B.V. The dewatering of highly saline (waste)waters by typical osmotic membranes, such as reverse osmosis (RO) or forward osmosis (FO), was significantly improved by a novel process in which an osmotic pressure gradient across the membrane is eliminated or reduced by increasing osmotic pressure in the permeate side. In this work, the concept of an osmotically enhanced dewatering (OED) process was fundamentally analyzed via conceptual modeling and verified experimentally under various hydraulic and osmotic pressure conditions. No or less osmotic gradient across the membrane resulted in higher water recovery than RO. Larger water flux was also produced than FO because the loss of osmotic driving force by internal concentration polarization (ICP) was greatly reduced. For instance, a series of experiments demonstrated that water flux of 1.2 LMH was obtained at low hydraulic pressure of 15 bar when a feed of 2.4 M NaCl was dewatered by the OED process. In addition, membrane characteristics (A, B, S) were optimized by modeling, and further examined experimentally using typical NF and FO membranes. Lastly, less reverse solute diffusion ensured a product of high quality after dewatering, suggesting that this process can be applied to not only highly saline shale gas produced water treatment, but also protein and pharmaceutical enrichment.
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