Forward osmosis (FO) is an energy-saving separation process that can be used in desalination applications. This work investigated the effect of mass transfer phenomenon on the FO desalination process. For this purpose, the water flux was studied through a bench scale system using a flat sheet FO membrane and feeds with various salinity. Then, the mass transfer resistances, which appear in the form of concentration polarization (CP) for the FO process, were evaluated qualitatively and quantitatively, using the collected experimental data and by employing a mathematical model. The results indicated that the increase in feed salinity led to a decrease in water flux due to the counteracted part of the draw solution osmotic pressure, thus leading to a lower effective osmotic pressure and driving force. Also, according to the results, there was a significant difference between the theoretical and experimental fluxes, indicating the influence of the mass transfer effects on the osmotic pressure drop. The modeling results showed that the internal concentration polarization (ICP) still held more contribution to the osmotic pressure loss. Furthermore, it was observed that as the feed solution concentration increased, both the ICP and dilutive external concentration polarization (DECP) decreased, whereas the concentrative ECP (CECP) intensified. Therefore, increasing the CECP led to a significant reduction in the effective osmotic pressure. In addition, increasing the draw solution concentration was accompanied by a much more severe ICP that limited the enhancement of effective flux.
Mass Transfer Study in Brine Water Treatment by Forward Osmosis Process
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