Reverse osmosis and forward osmosis fouling: a comparison

Robert W. Field*, Qianhong She*, Farrukh Arsalan Siddiqui, Anthony G. Fane

*Corresponding author for this work

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Our previously reported exploration (Journal of Membrane Science 565 (2018) 241–253) on the differences between fouling in reverse osmosis (RO) and forward osmosis (FO), used alginate as a foulant with initial conditions that ensured that the starting fluxes were the same. That study found that for a cellulose triacetate (CTA) membrane the extent of fouling, based on the analysis of foulant resistance, was greater when the membrane was part of a FO system. Herein, using the same methodology, results for a thin film composite membrane with alginate as the foulant are presented and these confirm the same general conclusion namely that the extent of foulant accumulation in FO mode is more severe than in RO mode. Furthermore the specific fouling resistance with alginate fouling in FO is more than for RO. However examining the overall operation including cleaning as well as fouling, this study suggests that FO operation is potentially less sensitive to fouling phenomena than RO for similar feed materials. This is due to the driving force compensation coming from a changing level of ICP. Some preliminary work including that with silica particles is also reported.
Original languageEnglish
Article number6
Number of pages14
JournalDiscover Chemical Engineering
Issue number1
Early online date20 Dec 2021
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2021


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