There is often a glaring but an obvious ambiguity when one talks about forward osmosis in regards to water treatment. Reverse osmosis is a technology which has been a mainstay in the water treatment industry for many decades. But forward osmosis, a technology which was touted to be the next big thing for wastewater treatment, has only recently started making waves.
When you think of just osmosis, it is simply the use of a semi-permeable membrane to diffuse water from a from a lower concentration solution to a higher concentration solution till both sides are at equilibrium. That’s what osmosis is, and in a sense, that is exactly what forward osmosis is too.
The semi-permeable membrane of FO attempts to extract only pure water from the feed solution, making this technology extremely useful for several types of industrial water treatment applications, such as wastewater management, product concentration (cold concentration) and water recycling.
Since it relies on the natural energy of osmotic pressure, it is also a less energy intensive method than other high pressure based water recycling technologies.
THE DRIVING FORCE IN FORWARD OSMOSIS:
The concentrated solution, or the draw solution creates osmotic pressure difference between both the solutions (Feed solution and Draw solution), which is the driving force in forward osmosis. This osmotic driving force is one of the reasons why forward osmosis has greater flux rates and recoveries and lower membrane fouling tendencies than other competing technologies. No external pressure is needed when it comes to forward osmosis, natural forces takeover.
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