Forward Osmosis: A Critical Review

Mehrdad Mohammadifakhr, Joris de Grooth, Hendrik Dirk Willem Roesink, A.J.B. Kemperman*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articleAcademicpeer-review

61 Citations (Scopus)
96 Downloads (Pure)


The use of forward osmosis (FO) for water purification purposes has gained extensive attention in recent years. In this review, we first discuss the advantages, challenges and various applications of FO, as well as the challenges in selecting the proper draw solution for FO, after which we focus on transport limitations in FO processes. Despite recent advances in membrane development for FO, there is still room for improvement of its selective layer and support. For many applications spiral wound membrane will not suffice. Furthermore, a defect-free selective layer is a prerequisite for FO membranes to ensure low solute passage, while a support with low internal concentration polarization is necessary for a high water flux. Due to challenges affiliated to interfacial polymerization (IP) on non-planar geometries, we discuss alternative approaches to IP to form the selective layer. We also explain that, when provided with a defect-free selective layer with good rejection, the membrane support has a dominant influence on the performance of an FO membrane, which can be estimated by the structural parameter (S). We emphasize the necessity of finding a new method to determine S, but also that predominantly the thickness of the support is the major parameter that needs to be optimized.
Original languageEnglish
Article number404
Number of pages29
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 30 Mar 2020


  • Forward osmosis
  • membrane support
  • Structural parameters
  • Concentration polarization
  • structural parameter
  • forward osmosis
  • concentration polarization
  • Membrane support
  • Structural parameter


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