A novel low energy fertilizer driven forward osmosis desalination for direct fertigation: Evaluating the performance of fertilizer draw solutions

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Journal Article
Journal of Membrane Science, 2011, 375 (1-2), pp. 172 - 181
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Forward osmosis (FO) is a novel and emerging low energy technology for desalination. It will be particularly more attractive, if the draw solution separation and recovery are not necessary after FO process. The application of this new concept is briefly described here in this paper for the desalination of saline water for irrigation, using fertilizer as a draw agent. Instead of separating the draw solution from desalinated water, the diluted fertilizer draw solution can be directly applied for fertigation. We report the results on the commonly used chemical fertilizers as FO draw solution. Based on the currently available FO technology, about nine different commonly used fertilizers were finally screened from a comprehensive list of fertilizers and, their performances were assessed in terms of pure water flux and reverse draw solute flux. These results indicate that, most soluble fertilizers can generate osmotic potential much higher than the sea water. The draw solutions of KCl, NaNO3 and KNO3 performed best in terms of water flux while NH4H2PO4, (NH4)2HPO4, Ca(NO3)2 and (NH4)2SO4 had the lowest reverse solute flux. Initial estimation indicates that, 1kg of fertilizer can extract water ranging from 11 to 29L from sea water. © 2011 Elsevier B.V.
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