Assessing the removal of organic micro-pollutants from anaerobic membrane bioreactor effluent by fertilizer-drawn forward osmosis

Youngjin Kim, Sheng Li, Laura Chekli, Yun Chul Woo, Chunhai Wei, Sherub Phuntsho, NorEddine Ghaffour, TorOve Leiknes, Ho Kyong Shon

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

48 Scopus citations


In this study, the behavior of organic micro-pollutants (OMPs) transport including membrane fouling was assessed in fertilizer-drawn forward osmosis (FDFO) during treatment of the anaerobic membrane bioreactor (AnMBR) effluent. The flux decline was negligible when the FO membrane was oriented with active layer facing feed solution (AL-FS) while severe flux decline was observed with active layer facing draw solution (AL-DS) with di-ammonium phosphate (DAP) fertilizer as DS due to struvite scaling inside the membrane support layer. DAP DS however exhibited the lowest OMPs forward flux or higher OMPs rejection rate compared to other two fertilizers (i.e., mono-ammonium phosphate (MAP) and KCl). MAP and KCl fertilizer DS had higher water fluxes that induced higher external concentration polarization (ECP) and enhanced OMPs flux through the FO membrane. Under the AL-DS mode of membrane orientation, OMPs transport was further increased with MAP and KCl as DS due to enhanced concentrative internal concentration polarization while with DAP the internal scaling enhanced mass transfer resistance thereby lowering OMPs flux. Physical or hydraulic cleaning could successfully recover water flux for FO membranes operated under the AL-FS mode but only partial flux recovery was observed for membranes operated under AL-DS mode because of internal scaling and fouling in the support layer. Osmotic backwashing could however significantly improve the cleaning efficiency.
Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)84-95
Number of pages12
JournalJournal of Membrane Science
StatePublished - Mar 23 2017

Bibliographical note

KAUST Repository Item: Exported on 2020-10-01
Acknowledgements: This research was supported by funding from the SEED program of King Abdullah University of Science and Technology (KAUST), Saudi Arabia. The help, assistance and support of the Water Desalination and Reuse Center (WDRC) staff are greatly appreciated. This study was also partially supported under the ARC Future Fellowship (FT140101208) and University of Technology Sydney chancellor's postdoctoral research fellowship.


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