Understanding the possible underlying mechanisms for low fouling tendency of the forward osmosis and pressure assisted osmosis processes

Publication Type:
Journal Article
Desalination, 2017, 421 pp. 89 - 98
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© 2017 Elsevier B.V. We investigated the possible underlying mechanism of the low fouling potential in the forward osmosis (FO) process during the osmotic dilution of seawater as part of the simultaneous desalination and wastewater reuse by FO and reverse osmosis hybrid system. Long-term experiments revealed an interesting water flux pattern highly dependent on the different operating parameters. The most interesting observation made was the spontaneous increase in the FO permeate flux at regular time interval during the FO operation using synthetic wastewater as feed and seawater. This sinusoidal FO flux pattern related well with the build-up of loose fouling layer and their natural peel-off from the membrane surface upon reaching certain layer thickness due to crossflow velocity shear. This flux pattern was more prominent at higher cross-flow velocity rates, lower feed water pH, for a smoother membrane surface and at lower operating pressure during pressure assisted osmosis (PAO) mode. Based on these results, membrane cleaning strategies were proposed by targeting a higher cross-flow velocity shear at a time when the permeate flux started to just increase. The approach of physical membrane cleaning was observed efficient and was able to almost fully restore the initial flux even under the PAO operation at 4 bar.
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