Y. Cui, X.-Y. Liu, T.-S. Chung, M. Weber, C. Staudt, C. Maletzko
Water Research, Volume 91, p. 104-114, (2016)
In this study, we have explored and compared the effectiveness of using (1) lab-fabricated forward osmosis (FO) membranes under both FO and reverse osmosis (RO) modes and (2) commercially available RO membranes under the RO mode for the removal of organic micro-pollutants. The lab-fabricated FO membranes are thin film composite (TFC) membranes consisting of a polyamide layer and a porous substrate cast from three different materials; namely, Matrimid, polyethersulfone (PESU) and sulfonated polyphenylene sulfone (sPPSU). The results show that the FO mode is superior to the RO mode in the removal of phenol, aniline and nitrobenzene from wastewater. The rejections of all three TFC membranes to all the three organic micro-pollutants under the FO processes are higher than 72% and can be even higher than 90% for aniline when a 1000 ppm aromatic aqueous solution and 1 M NaCl are employed as feeds. These performances outperform the results obtained from themselves and commercially available RO membranes under the RO mode. In addition, the rejection can be maintained even when treating a more concentrated feed solution (2000 ppm). The removal performance can be further enhanced by using a more concentrated draw solution (2 M). The water flux is almost doubled, and the rejection increment can reach up to 17%. Moreover, it was observed that annealing as a post-treatment would help compact the membrane selective layer and further enhance the separating efficiency. The obtained organic micro-pollutant rejections and water fluxes under various feasible operating conditions indicate that the FO process has potential to be a viable treatment for wastewater containing organic micro-pollutants.