Membrane fouling properties and different physical cleaning methods for forward osmosis (FO) and reverse osmosis (RO) lab-scale filtration systems were investigated. The membrane fouling, with respect to flux reduction, was lower in FO than in RO when testing an activated sludge effluent. Cross-flow velocity, air-scouring, osmotic backwashing and effect of a spacer were compared to determine the most effective cleaning method for FO. After a long period of fouling with activated sludge, the flux was fully recovered in a short period of osmotic backwashing compared with cleaning by changing cross-flow velocity and air-scouring. In this study, the osmotic backwashing was found to be the most efficient way to clean the FO membrane. The amount of RNA recovered from FO membranes was about twice that for RO membranes; biofouling could be more significant in FO than in RO. However, the membrane fouling in FO was lower than that in RO. The spacer increased the flux in FO with activated sludge liquor suspended solids of 2,500 mg/L, and there were effects of spacer on performance of FO–MBR membrane fouling. However, further studies are required to determine how the spacer geometry influences on the performance of the FO membrane.
- cross-flow velocity
- forward osmosis
- membrane fouling
- osmotic backwashing
- First received 15 January 2016.
- Accepted in revised form 8 April 2016.
- © IWA Publishing 2016