Thin-film composite membrane on a compacted woven backing fabric for pressure assisted osmosis
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2016 Elsevier B.V. The water flux in forward osmosis (FO) process declines substantially when the draw solution (DS) concentration reaches closer to the point of osmotic equilibrium with the feed solution (FS). Using external hydraulic pressure alongside the osmotic driving force in the pressure assisted osmosis (PAO) has been found effective in terms of enhancing water flux and even potentially diluting the DS beyond osmotic equilibrium. The net gain in water flux due to the applied pressure in the PAO process closely depends on the permeability of the FO membrane. The commercial flat sheet cellulose triacetate (CTA) FO membrane has low water permeability and hence the effective gain in water flux in the PAO process is low. In this study, a high performance thin film composite membrane was developed especially for the PAO process through casting polyethersulfone (PES) polymer solution on a compacted woven fabric mesh support followed by interfacial polymerisation for polyamide active layer. This PAO membrane possesses a water flux of 37 L m2h 1using 0.5 M NaCl as DS and deionised water as the feed at an applied hydraulic pressure of 10 bar. Besides, the membrane was able to endure the external hydraulic pressure required for the PAO process owing to the embedded backing fabric support. While the membranes with low structural parameters are essential for higher water flux, this study shows that for PAO process, polymeric membranes with larger structural parameters may not be suitable for PAO. They generally resulted in compaction and poor mechanical strength to withstand hydraulic pressure.