Dehydration of forward osmosis membranes in treating high salinity wastewaters: Performance and implications

Publication Type:
Journal Article
Journal of Membrane Science, 2016, 498 pp. 365 - 373
Issue Date:
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© 2015 Elsevier B.V. Forward osmosis (FO) is a promising technique for desalinating high salinity wastewaters, and membrane performance is critical for its successful application. In this work, the dehydration of FO membranes was demonstrated for both commercial cellulose triacetate and tailor-made thin-film composite membranes. A significant loss of FO flux was observed after membrane dehydration, but the pure water permeability and rejection properties remained about the same. Dehydrated membrane showed opaque/white spots on the initially homogeneous membrane. Once dehydrated, a membrane with a much lower water flux will be resulting in. It was demonstrated that when the active skin layer was in contact with the saline solution before the support layer was brought into contact with an aqueous solution, membrane dehydration took place. The dehydration was ascribed to osmosis gradient across the active layer that caused water flow from membrane support layer to the active layer, resulting in support dehydration. The dehydrated membrane could be rewetted again by low surface tension liquid or reverse osmosis, illustrating that membrane dehydration is reversible. Precaution should be addressed when operating large FO system to prevent the membrane dehydration for high salinity water treatment.
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