Ferric and cobaltous hydroacid complexes for forward osmosis (FO) processes

Qingchun Ge, Fengjiang Fu, Neal Tai-Shung Chung

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

61 Scopus citations


Cupric and ferric hydroacid complexes have proven their advantages as draw solutes in forward osmosis in terms of high water fluxes, negligible reverse solute fluxes and easy recovery (Ge and Chung, 2013. Hydroacid complexes: A new class of draw solutes to promote forward osmosis (FO) processes. Chemical Communications 49, 8471-8473.). In this study, cobaltous hydroacid complexes were explored as draw solutes and compared with the ferric hydroacid complex to study the factors influencing their FO performance. The solutions of the cobaltous complexes produce high osmotic pressures due to the presence of abundant hydrophilic groups. These solutes are able to dissociate and form a multi-charged anion and Na+ cations in water. In addition, these complexes have expanded structures which lead to negligible reverse solute fluxes and provide relatively easy approaches in regeneration. These characteristics make the newly synthesized cobaltous complexes appropriate as draw solutes. The FO performance of the cobaltous and ferric-citric acid (Fe-CA) complexes were evaluated respectively through cellulose acetate membranes, thin-film composite membranes fabricated on polyethersulfone supports (referred as TFC-PES), and polybenzimidazole and PES dual-layer (referred as PBI/PES) hollow fiber membranes. Under the conditions of DI water as the feed and facing the support layer of TFC-PES FO membranes (PRO mode), draw solutions at 2.0M produced relatively high water fluxes of 39-48 LMH (Lm-2hr-1) with negligible reverse solute fluxes. A water flux of 17.4 LMH was achieved when model seawater of 3.5wt.% NaCl replaced DI water as the feed and 2.0M Fe-CA as the draw solution under the same conditions. The performance of these hydroacid complexes surpasses those of the synthetic draw solutes developed in recent years. This observation, along with the relatively easy regeneration, makes these complexes very promising as a novel class of draw solutes. © 2014 Elsevier Ltd.
Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)230-238
Number of pages9
JournalWater Research
StatePublished - Jul 2014

Bibliographical note

KAUST Repository Item: Exported on 2020-10-01
Acknowledgements: We thank the financial supports from Singapore National Research Foundation under its Competitive Research Program for the project entitled, "Advanced FO Membranes and Membrane Systems for Wastewater Treatment, Water Reuse and Seawater Desalination" (grant numbers: R-279-000-336-281 and R-279-000-339-281). Special thanks are also given to Dr. Panu Sukitpaneenit, Dr. Jincai Su and Ms. Xiaochen Lin for their valuable help.

ASJC Scopus subject areas

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


Dive into the research topics of 'Ferric and cobaltous hydroacid complexes for forward osmosis (FO) processes'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this