Trace organic solutes in closed-loop forward osmosis applications: influence of membrane fouling and modeling of solute build-up

Water Res. 2013 Sep 15;47(14):5232-44. doi: 10.1016/j.watres.2013.06.006. Epub 2013 Jun 12.

Abstract

In this study, trace organics transport in closed-loop forward osmosis (FO) systems was assessed. The FO systems considered, consisted of an FO unit and a nanofiltration (NF) or reverse osmosis (RO) unit, with the draw solution circulating between both units. The rejection of trace organics by FO, NF and RO was tested. It was found that the rejection rates of FO were generally comparable with NF and lower than RO rejection rates. To assess the influence of fouling in FO on trace organics rejection, FO membranes were fouled with sodium alginate, bovine serum albumin or by biofilm growth, after which trace organics rejection was tested. A negative influence of fouling on FO rejection was found which was limited in most cases, while it was significant for some compounds such as paracetamol and naproxen, indicating specific compound-foulant interactions. The transport mechanism of trace organics in FO was tested, in order to differentiate between diffusive and convective transport. The concentration of trace organics in the final product water and the build-up of trace organics in the draw solution were modeled assuming the draw solution was reconcentrated by NF/RO and taking into account different transport mechanisms for the FO membrane and different rejection rates by NF/RO. Modeling results showed that if the FO rejection rate is lower than the RO rejection rate (as is the case for most compounds tested), the added value of the FO-RO cycle compared to RO only at steady-state was small for diffusively and negative for convectively transported trace organics. Modeling also showed that trace organics accumulate in the draw solution.

Keywords: Biofilm; Forward osmosis; Membrane fouling; Modeling; Organic micro pollutant.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Biofilms
  • Biofouling*
  • Equipment Design
  • Filtration / methods
  • Membranes, Artificial
  • Microscopy, Electron, Scanning
  • Models, Theoretical
  • Nanotechnology / methods
  • Osmosis*
  • Pharmaceutical Preparations / chemistry
  • Water Purification / instrumentation*
  • Water Purification / methods*

Substances

  • Membranes, Artificial
  • Pharmaceutical Preparations