Fouling distribution in forward osmosis membrane process

Junseok Lee, Bongchul Kim, Seungkwan Hong

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

28 Citations (Scopus)


Fouling behavior along the length of membrane module was systematically investigated by performing simple modeling and lab-scale experiments of forward osmosis (FO) membrane process. The flux distribution model developed in this study showed a good agreement with experimental results, validating the robustness of the model. This model demonstrated, as expected, that the permeate flux decreased along the membrane channel due to decreasing osmotic pressure differential across the FO membrane. A series of fouling experiments were conducted under the draw and feed solutions at various recoveries simulated by the model. The simulated fouling experiments revealed that higher organic (alginate) fouling and thus more flux decline were observed at the last section of a membrane channel, as foulants in feed solution became more concentrated. Furthermore, the water flux in FO process declined more severely as the recovery increased due to more foulants transported to membrane surface with elevated solute concentrations at higher recovery, which created favorable solution environments for organic adsorption. The fouling reversibility also decreased at the last section of the membrane channel, suggesting that fouling distribution on FO membrane along the module should be carefully examined to improve overall cleaning efficiency. Lastly, it was found that such fouling distribution observed with co-current flow operation became less pronounced in counter-current flow operation of FO membrane process.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1348-1354
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of Environmental Sciences (China)
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - 2014 Jun 1

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This research was supported by the World Class University Program (Case III) through the National Research Foundation of Korea and funded by the Ministry of Education, Science and Technology (R33-10046) and partly by grant from the Fundamental R&D Program for Technology of World Premier Materials funded by the Ministry of Knowledge Economy, Korea.


  • Counter-current flow FO operation
  • Forward osmosis
  • Fouling reversibility
  • Membrane module length
  • Organic fouling

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Environmental Engineering
  • Environmental Chemistry
  • General Environmental Science


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