Exploration of polyelectrolytes as draw solutes in forward osmosis processes
KAUST DepartmentWater Desalination and Reuse Research Center (WDRC)
Biological and Environmental Sciences and Engineering (BESE) Division
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AbstractThe development of the forward osmosis (FO) process has been constrained by the slow development of appropriate draw solutions. Two significant concerns related to draw solutions are the draw solute leakage and intensiveenergy requirement in recycling draw solutes after the FO process. FO would be much attractive if there is no draw solute leakage and the recycle of draw solutes is easy and economic. In this study, polyelectrolytes of a series of polyacrylic acid sodium salts (PAA-Na), were explored as draw solutes in the FO process. The characteristics of high solubility in water and flexibility in structural configuration ensure the suitability of PAA-Na as draw solutes and their relative ease in recycle through pressure-driven membrane processes. The high water flux with insignificant salt leakage in the FO process and the high salt rejection in recycle processes reveal the superiority of PAA-Na to conventional ionic salts, such as NaCl, when comparing their FO performance via the same membranes. The repeatable performance of PAA-Na after recycle indicates the absence of any aggregation problems. The overall performance demonstrates that polyelectrolytes of PAA-Na series are promising as draw solutes, and the new concept of using polyelectrolytes as draw solutes in FO processes is applicable. © 2011 Elsevier Ltd.
SponsorsWe thank the financial supports from Singapore National Research Foundation under its Competitive Research Program for the project entitled, "Advanced FO Membranes and Membrane Systems for Wastewater Treatment, Water Reuse and Seawater Desalination" (grant number: R-279-000-336-281) and King Abdullah University of Science and Technology (KAUST) (grant No. R-279-000-265-597). Special thanks are due to Mr. Weijie Lau for his valuable help.
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