Fouling behaviors during forward osmosis (FO) and reverse osmosis (RO) are compared. Alginate, humic acid, and bovine serum albumin (BSA) are used as model organic foulants, and two suspensions of silica colloids of different sizes are chosen as model particulate foulants. To allow meaningful comparison of fouling behavior, identical hydrodynamic operating conditions (i.e., initial permeate flux and cross-flow velocity) and feed water chemistries (i.e., pH, ionic strength, and calcium concentration) are employed during FO and RO fouling runs. The observed flux-decline behavior in FO changed dramatically with the type of organic foulant, size of colloidal foulant, and the type of the draw solution employed to generate the osmotic driving force. Based on these experimental data and the systematic comparisons of fouling behaviors of FO and RO, we provide new insights into the mechanisms governing FO fouling. In FO, reverse diffusion of salt from the draw solution to the feed side exacerbates the cake-enhanced osmotic pressure within the fouling layer. The elevated osmotic pressure near the membrane surface on the feed side leads to a substantial drop in the net osmotic driving force and, thus, significant decline of permeate flux. Our results further suggest that the structure (i.e., thickness and compactness) of the fouling layers of FO and RO is quite different. By varying the cross-flow velocity during the organic fouling runs, we were able to examine the fouling reversibility in FO and RO. The permeate flux during organic fouling in FO recovered almost completely with increasing cross-flow velocity, while no noticeable change was observed for the RO system. Our results suggest that organic fouling in FO could be controlled effectively by optimizing the hydrodynamics in the feed stream without employing chemical cleaning.
Bibliographical noteFunding Information:
This research was supported by World Class University (WCU) program (Case III) through the National Research Foundation of Korea funded by the Ministry of Education, Science and Technology ( R33-10046 ) and partly by Seawater Engineering & Architecture of High Efficiency Reverse Osmosis (SEAHERO) program supported by the Ministry of Land, Transport and Maritime Affairs (MLTM) .
- Cake-enhanced osmotic pressure (CEOP)
- Forward osmosis
- Fouling reversibility
- Reverse osmosis
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Materials Science(all)
- Physical and Theoretical Chemistry
- Filtration and Separation