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Forward osmosis : a desalination technology for the textile industry
Similar to the energy crisis, the critical state of the water supply in South Africa (SA) is a combination of (i) resource exhaustion and pollution; (ii) increasing demand; and (iii) poor infrastructure. Despite its importance, water is the most poorly managed resource in the world. The disposal of industrial effluents contributes greatly to the poor quality of water. The textile industry consumes great quantities of water and produces enormous volumes of wastewater which requires appropriate treatment before being released into the environment. In an attempt to address the water issues, research globally has focused on advanced technologies such as desalination to increase limited pure water resources. The need for alternative desalination methods for the production of clean water from alternative water resources, such as seawater and brackish water, has gained worldwide attention. Reverse osmosis (RO) and Nanofiltration (NF) have been used as unswerving approaches to yield freshwater. Forward osmosis (FO) is a developing membrane technology that has increased substantial attention as a possible lower-energy desalination technology. However, challenges such as suitable FO membranes, membrane fouling, concentration polarisation, and the availability of effective draw solutions (DS), limit FO technology. FO is seeking more importance in novel areas where separation and recovery of the DS is not required. The aims of this study was to: i) identify alternative water resources and evaluate their potential as suitable feed solution (FS); ii) Identify dyes and evaluate their potential as suitable draw solutions (DS) at different concentrations; iii) assess the use of aquaporin biomimetic membrane and iv) assess a FO system for the production of dye solutions. Osmotic pressure (OP) is the pressure exerted by the flow of water through semi-permeable membrane, separating two solutions with different concentrations of solute. The DS should always have OP higher than the FS in order to achieve high water flux. Three basic dyes (i.e. Maxilon Turquoise, Red and Blue) and three reactive dyes (i.e. Carmine, Olive Green and Black) were selected, based on their common use in the SA textile industry. The respective dye samples were prepared at different concentrations and dye-to-salt mass ratios ranging from 1:10 to 1:60 and assessed for OP using a freezing point osmometer. A lab-scale FO unit was used for all the studies. Feed and draw channels were circulated in a counter-current flow at a volumetric flow rate of 600 mL/min. Feed solutions(FS) included deionised water (DI) as a control, brackish water (BW), synthetic seawater (SSW) and textile wastewater (TWW) collected from two textile factories. OP of the FS (DI, BW5, SSW and SW, Factory 1 and Factory 2) was 0, 414, 2761, 2579, 1505 and 3308 kPa, respectively. Basic Blue and Reactive Black generated a higher OP compared to other selected dyes in the study and were therefore selected to be used as DS at a 1:10 dye-to-salt ratio and 0.02 M concentration. An aquaporin biomimetic FO membrane (Aquaporin, Denmark) was used for all the experiments conducted in the FO mode.