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Application of forward osmosis in reusing the brackish concentrate produced in reverse osmosis plants with secondary treated wastewater as feed solution: a case study

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This study evaluated the feasibility of forward osmosis (FO) in diluting and reusing the concentrate produced in a reverse osmosis (RO) plant in James City County, VA. Secondary treated wastewater (STW) was used as the feed solution. Findings indicated that pH had slight effects on the water flux of the FO membrane. As the concentration of total dissolved solids (TDS) in the concentrate was diluted from 12.5 to 1.0 g/L or the temperature in the STW decreased from 23 to 10 °C, the membrane flux decreased from 2.2 to 0.59 and 0.81 L/(m2 h), respectively. The FO membrane showed a good performance in the rejection of organic pollutants, with only a small part of the protein-like substances and disinfection byproducts permeating to the diluted concentrate. During an 89-hour continuous operation, water flux decline due to membrane fouling was not observed. Controlling the TDS in the second-stage FO effluent at 1.5 g/L, approximately 8.3% of the pump energy input could be saved. The consumption of groundwater was reduced from 22.7 × 103 to 10.6 × 103 m3/d. FO was proved to be an effective method in both diluting the discharged concentrate and reducing the energy consumption of RO.

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