Treatment of industrial wastewater produced by desulfurization process in a coal-fired power plant via FO-MD hybrid process

Songbok Lee, Youngjin Kim, Seungkwan Hong*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

73 Scopus citations


In this study, the feasibility of forward osmosis (FO) hybridized with membrane distillation (MD) was systematically investigated for treating flue gas desulfurization (FGD) wastewater. FO experiments were conducted using raw FGD wastewater obtained from a coal-fired power plant in Korea. Severe membrane fouling in FO was observed since FGD wastewater contained various components (i.e., particles, colloids, organics, and ions). The combined fouling layer by particulates and scales was identified via scanning electron microscope (SEM), energy dispersive X-ray (EDX) and X-ray diffraction (XRD). Therefore, fouling control strategies were suggested and evaluated. Microfiltration (MF) pre-treatment was effective in removing particulates and mitigating the initial fouling. Antiscalant-blended draw solution (DS) could inhibit the formation of membrane scaling. With such fouling control schemes, FO achieved the highest recovery rate compared to other desalting processes (i.e., RO and MD), suggesting that FO is suitable for treating wastewater with high fouling potential and high TDS. Finally, the diluted DS was recovered by MD. MD could re-concentrate the diluted DS up to 50% recovery rate with no significant flux decline. Rapid flux decline was then observed due to membrane scaling. Thus, appropriate antiscalants in DS should be considered to inhibit scaling formation in FO and MD simultaneously.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)44-51
Number of pages8
StatePublished - Nov 2018

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2018 Elsevier Ltd


  • Flue gas desulfurization (FGD) wastewater
  • Forward osmosis (FO)
  • Industrial wastewater treatment
  • Membrane distillation (MD)
  • Membrane fouling control

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Chemistry
  • Pollution
  • Health, Toxicology and Mutagenesis
  • Environmental Engineering
  • Environmental Chemistry


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