Energy efficiency of hollow fibre membrane module in the forward osmosis seawater desalination process

Publication Type:
Journal Article
Journal of Membrane Science, 2019, 587
Issue Date:
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© 2019 This study provided new insights regarding the energy efficiency of hollow fibre forward osmosis modules for seawater desalination; and as a consequence an approach was developed to improve the process performance. Previous analysis overlooked the relationship between the energy efficiency and operating modes of the hollow fibre forward osmosis membrane when the process was scaled-up. In this study, the module length and operating parameters were incorporated in the design of an energy-efficient forward osmosis system. The minimum specific power consumption for seawater desalination was calculated at the thermodynamic limits. Two FO operating modes: (1) draw solution in the lumen and (2) feed solution in the lumen, were evaluated in terms of the desalination energy requirements at a minimum draw solution flow rate. The results revealed that the operating mode of the forward osmosis membrane was important in terms of reducing the desalination energy. In addition, the length of the forward osmosis module was also a significant factor and surprisingly increasing the length of the forward osmosis module was not always advantageous in improving the performance. The study outcomes also showed that seawater desalination by the forward osmosis process was less energy efficient at low and high osmotic draw solution concentration and performed better at 1.2–1.4 M sodium chloride draw solution concentrations. The findings of this study provided a platform to the manufacturers and operators of hollow fibre forward osmosis membrane to improve the energy efficiency of the desalination process.
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