Increasing sustainability awareness has created opportunities for the recovery and reuse of salt solutions in industrial processes. Osmotically assisted reverse osmosis (OARO) has the potential to concentrate these salt solutions. Until now OARO research focussed on the production of purified water yielding an unsaturated salt solution as retentate, whereas a saturated salt solution is often needed for reuse. OARO featuring recycling of part of the saturated salt solution to the permeate side of the membrane has now been investigated. The introduction of a saturated NaCl solution results in strongly changing osmotic pressure difference and flux profiles along the length of the modules, with a maximum osmotic pressure difference and a minimum flux close to the outlet of the OARO system. In contrast to the NaCl retention of the membrane, the NaCl feed concentration does not have an influence on the maximum osmotic pressure difference. The osmotic pressure difference and membrane flux are strongly dependent on the applied concentrate split factor, which has a strong effect on the required membrane area per feed flow supplied as well. The amount of surface area required per flow of saturated NaCl solution leaving the OARO unit has an optimum as function of the concentrate split factor. This is due to two counteracting effects, the lower osmotic pressure difference, and the lower fraction of saturated NaCl solution leaving the OARO for a higher concentrate split factor. Based on the modelling, essential knowledge has been generated for the further research and development of OARO.
- Osmotically assisted reverse osmosis
- Saturated solution
- Split factor