LONG-TERM FOULING AND PERFORMANCE OF FORWARD OSMOSIS MEMBRANES
TREATING ACTIVATED SLUDGE AND OIL AND GAS PRODUCED WATER
Elizabeth A. Bell
M.S. Civil & Environmental Engineering
Colorado School of Mines
Growing populations and climate change are driving water scarcity in the United States. As a result,
water reuse practices are growing in order to augment fresh water supplies with water recovered from
unconventional or impaired water resources. Forward osmosis (FO) membranes are one promising
advanced water treatment technology that provides high quality water and rejects a broad range of
constituents and contaminants.
As with all membrane technologies, membrane fouling (i.e., deposition of biological, organics, and
inorganic constituents on the membrane surface) is a major contributor to operating costs. FO fouling
literature lacks studies that use real wastewater for long-term treatment periods and, and therefore,
these studies may not represent realistic FO operations. Additional y, few studies compare widely-used
cellulose triacetate (CTA) membranes to emerging polyamide thin film composite (TFC) membranes. TFC
membranes have promising performance characteristics and are capable of operating in a wider range
of wastewater conditions than CTA membranes.
Thus, the focus of this thesis was to investigate long-term CTA and TFC fouling and performance in two
important water reuse waste streams: municipal wastewater and oil and gas produced water. The
research was supported by the ConocoPhillips Center for a Sustainable WE2ST (Water-Energy Education,
Science and Technology) at the Colorado School of Mines. Specific goals of the Center are to address
growing water sustainability challenges in the arid west and water management challenges in
unconventional energy development. The research demonstrated that FO membranes are a viable
water reuse technology and offered recommendations for future FO membrane research.