Seawater desalination for agriculture by integrated forward and reverse osmosis: Improved product water quality for potentially less energy

We introduce the concept of an integrated forward osmosis and reverse osmosis process for seawater desalination

Devin L. Shaffer; Ngai Yin Yip; Jack Gilron; Menachem Elimelech

2012

Scholarcy highlights

  • Seawater desalination will play an important role in addressing the challenge of global water scarcity
  • An integrated forward osmosis and reverse osmosis desalination process producing water for agricultural use can save energy compared to the conventional two-pass Seawater reverse osmosis process illustrated in Fig. 1 because it achieves pretreatment for the reverse osmosis process and post-treatment for boron and chloride removal in a combined process
  • We modeled the energy consumption of the integrated forward and reverse osmosis desalination process and compared the results to those from modeling we performed for a two-pass SWRO process operating under the same conditions
  • In addition to energy savings, an integrated forward osmosis and reverse osmosis desalination process to produce water for agricultural irrigation has several potential benefits when compared to conventional SWRO
  • Irrigated agriculture will continue to drive global water demands, and an integrated forward and reverse osmosis desalination process has the potential to increase the available water supply for agriculture in a way that is more sustainable than the current SWRO process
  • The boron rejection rate depends on system recovery and varies between 80 and 99%, while the total dissolved solids rejection is always greater than 99%
  • Research has demonstrated that the forward osmosis process has a much lower organic fouling propensity than reverse osmosis, a better understanding of forward osmosis biofouling and scaling behavior can further improve the performance of the integrated desalination process
  • The development of fouling resistant forward osmosis membranes and improved design of forward osmosis membrane modules are important areas of continued research to control and mitigate fouling in the forward osmosis process

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