Membrane scaling and flux decline during fertiliser-drawn forward osmosis desalination of brackish groundwater

Sherub Phuntsho, Fezeh Lotfi, Seungkwan Hong, Devin L. Shaffer, Menachem Elimelech, Ho Kyong Shon

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

64 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Fertiliser-drawn forward osmosis (FDFO) desalination has been recently studied as one feasible application of forward osmosis (FO) for irrigation. In this study, the potential of membrane scaling in the FDFO process has been investigated during the desalination of brackish groundwater (BGW). While most fertilisers containing monovalent ions did not result in any scaling when used as an FO draw solution (DS), diammonium phosphate (DAP or (NH4)2HPO4) resulted in significant scaling, which contributed to severe flux decline. Membrane autopsy using scanning electron microscopy (SEM), energy-dispersive x-ray spectroscopy (EDS), and x-ray diffraction (XRD) analysis indicated that the reverse diffusion of DAP from the DS to the feed solution was primarily responsible for scale formation during the FDFO process. Physical cleaning of the membrane with deionised water at varying crossflow velocities was employed to evaluate the reversibility of membrane scaling and the extent of flux recovery. For the membrane scaled using DAP as DS, 80-90% of the original flux was recovered when the crossflow velocity for physical cleaning was the same as the crossflow velocity during FDFO desalination. However, when a higher crossflow velocity or Reynolds number was used, the flux was recovered almost completely, irrespective of the DS concentration used. This study underscores the importance of selecting a suitable fertiliser for FDFO desalination of brackish groundwater to avoid membrane scaling and severe flux decline.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)172-182
Number of pages11
JournalWater Research
Volume57
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2014 Jun 15

Fingerprint

Osmosis
Groundwater
Fertilizers
Desalination
osmosis
desalination
fertilizer
Fluxes
membrane
Membranes
groundwater
Cleaning
X-Rays
X rays
Deionized water
Irrigation
Reynolds number
Membrane Potentials
Electron Scanning Microscopy
diffraction

Keywords

  • Brackish groundwater
  • Desalination
  • Forward osmosis
  • Inorganic fouling
  • Membrane scaling

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Water Science and Technology
  • Waste Management and Disposal
  • Pollution
  • Ecological Modelling

Cite this

Membrane scaling and flux decline during fertiliser-drawn forward osmosis desalination of brackish groundwater. / Phuntsho, Sherub; Lotfi, Fezeh; Hong, Seungkwan; Shaffer, Devin L.; Elimelech, Menachem; Shon, Ho Kyong.

In: Water Research, Vol. 57, 15.06.2014, p. 172-182.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Phuntsho, Sherub ; Lotfi, Fezeh ; Hong, Seungkwan ; Shaffer, Devin L. ; Elimelech, Menachem ; Shon, Ho Kyong. / Membrane scaling and flux decline during fertiliser-drawn forward osmosis desalination of brackish groundwater. In: Water Research. 2014 ; Vol. 57. pp. 172-182.
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