Water harvesting from municipal wastewater via osmotic gradient: An evaluation of process performance

Rodrigo Valladares Linares, Zhenyu Li, Muhanned Abu Ghdaid, Chunhai Wei, Gary L. Amy, Johannes S. Vrouwenvelder

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

120 Scopus citations


Forward osmosis (FO) presents a unique opportunity for integrated wastewater treatment and seawater desalination. This study assesses the efficiency of a submerged FO system to reduce the volume of wastewater that needs to be treated while recovering high quality water that can be further treated for sustainable fresh water production. A semi-batch operation was employed with two membrane orientations in terms of active and support layers. A change of membrane orientation could improve the flux and slightly reduce the salt leakage from the draw solution to the feed solution. The formation of fouling on the membrane resulted in a decrease of the initial flux and average flux with both membrane orientations. The fouling layer on the membrane surface was determined to be caused by biopolymer-like substances. Osmotic backwash removed almost all organic foulants from the membrane surface, but did not improve the flux. There was a moderate to high retention of nutrients (N and P), varying from 56% to 99%, and almost a complete retention for trace metals regardless of membrane orientation. However the membrane showed a limited ability to retain low molecular weight acids and low molecular weight neutral compounds. This study identified a possible role of the FO process to integrate wastewater treatment and seawater desalination for a sustainable solution of the water-energy nexus for coastal cities. © 2013 Elsevier B.V..
Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)50-56
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of Membrane Science
StatePublished - Nov 2013

Bibliographical note

KAUST Repository Item: Exported on 2020-10-01
Acknowledgements: The authors thank the kind contribution of Hydration Technology Innovations for providing the FO membranes. The authors appreciate the help of the WDRC laboratory staff for their assistance in this work. The authors acknowledge the financial support of GS E&C from South Korea to complete this research.

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry
  • Filtration and Separation
  • General Materials Science
  • Physical and Theoretical Chemistry


Dive into the research topics of 'Water harvesting from municipal wastewater via osmotic gradient: An evaluation of process performance'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this