Investigating sustainable management of desalination brine through concentration using forward osmosis

Funding Sponsor

American University in Cairo

Author's Department

Center for Applied Research on the Environment & Sustainability

Second Author's Department

Center for Applied Research on the Environment & Sustainability

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Document Type

Research Article

Publication Title

Environmental Science and Pollution Research

Publication Date





A fertilizer drawn forward osmosis (FDFO) process was tested for the concentration of synthetic brine using an industrial-grade fertilizer ammonium sulfate (NH4)2SO4 as the draw solution (DS), NaCl-based synthetic brine as the feed solution (FS), and a commercial forward osmosis (FO) membrane. A bench-scale investigation and a pilot-scale investigation were carried out. By using the highest possible concentration of the DS with a fixed concentration of the FS, the brine generated by reverse osmosis (RO) desalination plants was simulated. The aim of this investigation, performed in batch mode, was to assess the feasibility of using the FDFO process with the tested DS to concentrate the brine by extracting water to dilute the DS. While the main aim of the investigated process was achieving the maximum possible volume reduction of the brine, the resulting DS was further diluted to reduce the nutrients’ concentration in the diluted DS to the acceptable levels producing fertilized water that can be used for fertigation. The investigation showed that the proposed process using the tested fertilizer resulted in an average water flux of 8.01 l/h/m2, and a volume reduction of the brine of around 12%.

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