Influence of hydrodynamic operating conditions on organic fouling of spiral-wound forward osmosis membranes: Fouling-induced performance deterioration in FO-RO hybrid system

Elsevier BV
Publication Type:
Journal Article
Water Research, 2020, 185, pp. 116154-116154
Issue Date:
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Water research_Manuscript_CMLee_191219_v5.docxAccepted version2.05 MB
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© 2020 Elsevier Ltd The forward osmosis-reverse osmosis (FO-RO) hybrid process has been extensively researched as part of attempts to reduce the high energy consumption of conventional seawater reverse osmosis in recent years. FO operating conditions play a substantial role in the hybrid process, dictating not only the performance of the entire system but also the propensity for fouling, which deteriorates performance in long-term field operations. Therefore, determining the optimal FO operating conditions with regard to membrane fouling may promote sustainable operation through efficient fouling control. This study thus evaluated the influence of each hydrodynamic operating condition (feed flowrate, draw flowrate, and hydraulic pressure difference) and their synergistic effects on fouling propensity in a pilot-scale FO operation under seawater and municipal wastewater conditions. Fouling-induced variation in water flux, channel pressure drop, diluted concentration, and the resulting specific energy consumption (SEC) were comparatively analyzed and utilized to project performance variation in a full-scale FO-RO system. Fouling-induced performance reduction significantly varied depending on hydrodynamic operating conditions and the resultant fouling propensity during 15 days of continuous operation. A high feed flowrate demonstrated a clear ability to mitigate fouling-induced performance deterioration in all conditions. A high draw flowrate turned out to be detrimental for fouling propensity since its high reverse solute flux accelerated fouling growth. Applying additional hydraulic pressure during FO operation caused a faster reduction of water flux, and thus feed recovery and water production; however, these drawbacks could be compensated for by a 10% reduction in the required FO membrane area and an additional reduction in RO SEC.
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