Integrated forward osmosis-membrane distillation (FO-MD) hybrid system for the concentration of protein solutions

Kai Yu Wang, May May Teoh, Adrian Nugroho, Tai Shung Chung*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

197 Scopus citations


For the first time, an integrated forward osmosis-membrane distillation (FO-MD) hybrid system has been demonstrated for the concentration of protein solutions, specifically a bovine serum albumin (BSA) solution. A hydrophilic polybenzimidazole (PBI) nanofiltration hollow fiber membrane and a hydrophobic polyvinylidene fluoride-polytetrafluoroethylene (PVDF-PTFE) hollow fiber membrane were fabricated and employed in the FO and MD processes, respectively. A concentrated NaCl solution was employed as the draw solute to dehydrate proteins in FO, while distillate water is a by-product during the re-concentration of diluted NaCl draw solution in MD. To determine suitable operating conditions for the hybrid system, independent characterizations were carried out for both FO and MD processes using different NaCl concentrations as draw solutes in FO and different feed temperatures in MD. It was found that the integrated system is stable in continuous operation when the dehydration rate across the FO membrane is the same as the water vapor rate across the MD membrane. Simple mathematical models consistent with the experimental results were also developed for the FO and the FO-MD hybrid systems. The newly developed FO-MD hybrid system is promising for the concentration of pharmaceuticals/protein solutions in the foreseeable future.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)2421-2430
Number of pages10
Issue number11
StatePublished - Jun 1 2011
Externally publishedYes


  • Direct contact membrane distillation
  • Forward osmosis
  • Mathematical modeling
  • Membranes
  • Pharmaceuticals
  • Separations

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Chemistry
  • General Chemical Engineering
  • Industrial and Manufacturing Engineering


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