Evaluation of forward osmosis as a pretreatment process for multi stage flash seawater desalination
AuthorThabit, Mshael S.
Hawari, Alaa H.
Ammar, Mhd. Hafez
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The present study evaluates the feasibility of applying forward osmosis (FO) process for the pretreatment of feed solution to a Multi Stage Flash (MSF) desalination plant. For the first time, real brine reject and real seawater were used as the draw solution and the feed solution, respectively in the FO process. The FO pretreatment is expected to dilute the brine reject and reduce the concentration of divalent ions, which are responsible for scale formation on the surface of heat exchanger in the MSF evaporator unit. The FO experiments were performed at different draw solution temperatures ranging between 25 and 40 °C, different draw and feed solutions flowrates and different membrane orientations. A maximum average membrane flux of 22.3 L/m2·h was reported at a draw solution temperature of 40 °C and 0.8 and 2.0 LPM flow rate of draw and feed solutions, respectively. The experimental results also revealed the process sensitivity to the feed solution temperature. It was found that the average membrane flux in the FO process operating at 0.8 and 2 LPM draw and feed solution flow rates, respectively was 16.9 L/m2·h at 25 °C brine temperature but increased to 22.3 L/m2·h at 40 °C brine temperature. These membrane fluxes resulted in 3% and 8.5% dilution of the draw solution at 25 °C and 40 °C temperatures, respectively. The average membrane flux in the FO mode was equal to that in the PRO mode at low flow rates but it was lower than that in the PRO mode at high flow rates of the feed and draw solutions. The outcomes of the study are very promising with regard to membrane flux and dilution of draw solution.