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Mass transfer limitations

Field, R.; Wu, J.J.


R. Field


The key process engineering differences between reverse osmosis (RO) forward osmosis (FO) and pressure retarded osmosis (PRO) are emphasized. Attention is drawn to the importance of mass transfer limitations which are more severe in FO than in other membranes as module size increases. Comprehensive general equations are developed and applied to selected recent data. The supposedly linear performance with increasing draw solution concentration mentioned by some is incorrect. The maximum possible water flux through a FO membrane used in a desalination application is proportional to LN(πd/πf), where πd and πf are the osmotic pressures of the draw solution and the saline feed water, respectively. Scepticism is expressed as to whether FO will ever contend with RO for the production of potable water by sea water desalination because the strength of the draw solution for comparable fluxes to RO is given by View the MathML source where ΔP is the TMP in RO. The future of FO probably lies with the dewatering of very high salinity brines, niche applications and possibly PRO.


Field, R., & Wu, J. (2013). Mass transfer limitations. Desalination, 318, 118-124.

Journal Article Type Article
Acceptance Date Jan 25, 2013
Publication Date 2013-06
Deposit Date May 8, 2013
Journal Desalination
Print ISSN 0011-9164
Publisher Elsevier
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 318
Pages 118-124
Keywords Forward osmosis, Reverse osmosis, Desalination, Pressure retarded osmosis, Mass transfer.