Performance and implications of forward osmosis-membrane distillation hybrid system for simultaneous treatment of different real produced water streams

Muhammad Saqib Nawaz, Talal Alamoudi, Sofiane Soukane, Hyuk Soo Son, Yong Jin, Sandra C. Medina, Mustakeem Mustakeem, Veerabhadraiah Gudideni, Ali Al-Qahtani, Noreddine Ghaffour*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

7 Scopus citations


This study investigates the simultaneous treatment of different real produced water streams using forward osmosis-membrane distillation (FO-MD) hybrid system. The water–oil separator outlet (WO) was used simultaneously as FO draw solution (DS) and MD feed solution (FS). The FO process generated stable average fluxes of 13.6 L/m2/h and 15.8 L/m2/h with desalter effluent (DE) and wash water (WW) as FO feed streams, while MD produced 13.2 L/m2/h and 11 L/m2/h, respectively. Monovalent ions induced internal concentration polarization and CaSiO3 colloidal scaling on the support layer reduced the FO flux. Further FO flux reduction was caused by CaSO4 and NaCl crystals on the active layer. Moreover, CaSO4 created partial pore covering while oil and grease depicted pore clogging of the MD membrane, which decreased the MD flux. Volatile fatty acids and organic nano pollutants reached MD permeate and FO FS. Humic acid scaling was fully recovered by ethylenediaminetetraacetic acid by masking calcium ions and reducing the pH. No membrane wetting was observed in the system. No bacteria were found in real streams as analyzed with Epifluorescence microscopy, eliminating the potential of microbial fouling. The hybrid system showed > 93 % removal of oil, inorganics and organics, making the permeate quality excellent for re-injection or industrial reuse. The FS streams were concentrated by 77–84 % resulting in smaller disposal volumes. No utilization of chemicals and water makes this hybrid concept practical and sustainable. The findings of this study can serve as design criteria for future onsite pilot plant applications.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number138479
JournalChemical Engineering Journal
StatePublished - Dec 15 2022

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
The work reported in this study was supported by King Abdullah University of Science and Technology (KAUST), Saudi Arabia through sponsored research grant provided by Saudi Aramco , Grant # RGC/3/3598-01-01 . The help, assistance, and support of the water Desalination and Reuse Center (WDRC) staff are greatly appreciated.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2022 Elsevier B.V.


  • FO fouling
  • FO-MD hybrid
  • MD fouling and wetting
  • Real produced water
  • Simultaneous treatment
  • Volatile rejection

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Chemistry(all)
  • Environmental Chemistry
  • Chemical Engineering(all)
  • Industrial and Manufacturing Engineering


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