Pressure Retarded Osmosis (PRO): Past experiences, current developments, and future prospects


Sarp, S.
Li, Z.
Saththasivam, J.

KAUST Department
Water Desalination and Reuse Research Center (WDRC)

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Pressure Retarded Osmosis (PRO) has attracted worldwide attention with respect to its salinity gradient energy production potential, and low energy desalination applications. PRO processes, which use Seawater Reverse Osmosis (SWRO) brine as draw solutions, have a higher potential of being applied to any new, and existing membrane based seawater desalination systems, as an energy production and/or conservation process. Hydraulic pressure is applied on a high salinity draw solution, and the hydraulic pressure of the high salinity draw solution can be kept relatively constant during operation, even though the volumetric flow rate is to be increased. Therefore, the draw side of the PRO process can be considered near-isobaric, in most cases. The harvested Gibbs free energy of mixing, and the volumetric expansion can explain this near-isobaric behavior of the draw side in the PRO process. Thus, PRO can be used to multiply the internal energy of the draw solution with respect to the ratio of the permeated water flux. Even though PRO has very high theoretical potential for energy production and/or recovery, there are several shortcomings, which should be answered before the realization of the scale up applications, such as; thermodynamic process optimization, high power density membranes, and high efficiency hydraulic pressure conversion and recovery systems. This review gives detailed information about the PRO process including; (1) theoretical background, (2) membranes for PRO, (3) experimental and large scale applications, and (4) economic feasibility of PRO applications.

Sarp S, Li Z, Saththasivam J (2016) Pressure Retarded Osmosis (PRO): Past experiences, current developments, and future prospects. Desalination 389: 2–14. Available:

Elsevier BV



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