Environmental Science and Pollution Research

, Volume 25, Issue 6, pp 5203–5211 | Cite as

Exploration of an innovative draw solution for a forward osmosis-membrane distillation desalination process

  • Nguyen Cong NguyenEmail author
  • Shiao-Shing ChenEmail author
  • Shubham Jain
  • Hau Thi Nguyen
  • Saikat Sinha Ray
  • Huu Hao NgoEmail author
  • Wenshan Guo
  • Ngoc Tuan Lam
  • Hung Cong Duong
Tools, techniques and technologies for pollution prevention, control and resource recovery


Forward osmosis (FO) has emerged as a viable technology to alleviate the global water crisis. The greatest challenge facing the application of FO technology is the lack of an ideal draw solution with high water flux and low reverse salt flux. Hence, the objective of this study was to enhance FO by lowering reverse salt flux and maintaining high water flux; the method involved adding small concentrations of Al2(SO4)3 to a MgCl2 draw solution. Results showed that 0.5 M MgCl2 mixed with 0.05 M of Al2(SO4)3 at pH 6.5 achieved a lower reverse salt flux (0.53 gMH) than that of pure MgCl2 (1.55 gMH) using an FO cellulose triacetate nonwoven (CTA-NW) membrane. This was due possibly to the flocculation of aluminum hydroxide in the mixed draw solution that constricted membrane pores, resulting in reduced salt diffusion. Moreover, average water fluxes of 4.09 and 1.74 L/m2-h (LMH) were achieved over 180 min, respectively, when brackish water (5 g/L) and sea water (35 g/L) were used as feed solutions. Furthermore, three types of membrane distillation (MD) membranes were selected for draw solution recovery; of these, a polytetrafluoroethylene membrane with a pore size of 0.45 μm proved to be the most effective in achieving a high salt rejection (99.90%) and high water flux (5.41 LMH) in a diluted draw solution.


Forward osmosis Draw solution Desalination Flocculation Membrane distillation Seawater 



This work was supported by the Southern Taiwan Science Park and the Ministry of Science and Technology of the Republic of China under the grant number of 104-2221-E-027-004-MY3. The authors are also grateful for the support of the Institute of Environmental Engineering and Management, National Taipei University of Technology, Taiwan and Centre for Technology in Water and Wastewater, University of Technology, Sydney, Australia.

Supplementary material

11356_2017_9192_MOESM1_ESM.docx (458 kb)
ESM 1 (DOCX 457 kb)


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Institute of Environmental Engineering and ManagementNational Taipei University of TechnologyTaipeiTaiwan, Republic of China
  2. 2.Faculty of Environment and Natural ResourcesDalat UniversityDalatVietnam
  3. 3.School of Civil and Chemical EngineeringVIT UniversityVelloreIndia
  4. 4.School of Civil and Environmental Engineering, Faculty of Engineering and Information TechnologyUniversity of Technology SydneyBroadwayAustralia
  5. 5.Strategic Water Infrastructure Laboratory, School of Civil Mining and Environmental EngineeringUniversity of WollongongWollongongAustralia

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