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Fatty acid fouling of forward osmosis membrane: Effects of pH, calcium, membrane orientation, initial permeate flux and foulant composition

Pin Zhao , Baoyu Gao , Qinyan Yue , Pan Liu , Ho Kyong Shon


Received July 10, 2015,Revised December 11, 2015, Accepted February 17, 2016, Available online March 18, 2016

Volume 28,2016,Pages 55-62

Octanoic acid (OA) was selected to represent fatty acids in effluent organic matter (EOM). The effects of feed solution (FS) properties, membrane orientation and initial permeate flux on OA fouling in forward osmosis (FO) were investigated. The undissociated OA formed a cake layer quickly and caused the water flux to decline significantly in the initial 0.5 hr at unadjusted pH 3.56; while the fully dissociated OA behaved as an anionic surfactant and promoted the water permeation at an elevated pH of 9.00. Moreover, except at the initial stage, the sudden decline of water flux (meaning the occurrence of severe membrane fouling) occurred in two conditions: 1. 0.5 mmol/L Ca2 +, active layer facing draw solution (AL-DS) and 1.5 mol/L NaCl (DS); 2. No Ca2 +, active layer-facing FS (AL-FS) and 4 mol/L NaCl (DS). This demonstrated that cake layer compaction or pore blocking occurred only when enough foulants were absorbed into the membrane surface, and the water permeation was high enough to compact the deposit inside the porous substrate. Furthermore, bovine serum albumin (BSA) was selected as a co-foulant. The water flux of both co-foulants was between the fluxes obtained separately for the two foulants at pH 3.56, and larger than the two values at pH 9.00. This manifested that, at pH 3.56, BSA alleviated the effect of the cake layer caused by OA, and OA enhanced BSA fouling simultaneously; while at pH 9.00, the mutual effects of OA and BSA eased the membrane fouling.

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