Boron in the desalinated water produced by the seawater reverse osmosis (SWRO) system is one of the most challenging issues for drinking or irrigation water uses. In recent years, many post-treatment methods and designs for boron elimination have emerged and attracted lots of attention, but only a few cases have demonstrated high performance and economic efficiency. The main aim of this work was to evaluate the efficiency of boron removal from seawater using a two-pass SWRO system employing different RO membranes at Qingdao Jiaozhou Bay, the Yellow Sea of China. In this study, HYDRANAUTICS SWC3+ and ESPAB were chosen as the first and second pass membrane, respectively. The impact of feed properties including temperature, pH, salinity, boron concentration, and operational conditions such as feed pressure on boron rejection and permeate flux was determined. In addition, a relative long term run of the two-pass SWRO system was investigated and compared with performance of system that uses Filmtec membrane as reported in the literature. Although the pilot system in this study experienced more severe feed conditions with lower pH, higher feed boron concentrations and lower operational pressures: all potential negative factors for boron rejection, it still achieved good performance for boron reduction. The results of three-month long term operation indicated that, at optimum conditions, two-pass SWRO system at Qingdao Jiaozhou Bay achieved a high performance and stability without anti-scalants to produce permeate which has much a lower boron concentration than the World Health Organization (WHO) guideline.
Keywords: boron removal, membranes, post-treatment, seawater, SWRO, two-pass