Forward osmosis (FO) is a promising technology for the treatment of complex water and wastewater streams. Studies around FO are focusing on identifying potential applications and on overcoming its technological limitations. Another important aspect to be addressed is the environmental sustainability of FO. With the aim to partially fill this gap, this study presents a life cycle analysis (LCA) of a potential full-scale FO system. From a purely environmental standpoint, results suggest that significantly higher impacts would be associated with the deployment of thermolytic, organic, and fertilizer-based draw solutes, compared to more accessible inorganic compounds. The influent draw osmotic pressure in FO influences the design of the real-scale filtration system and in turn its environmental sustainability. In systems combining FO with a pressure-driven membrane process to recover the draw solute (reverse osmosis or nanofiltration), the environmental sustainability is governed by a trade-off between the energy required by the regeneration step and the draw solution management. With the deployment of environmentally sustainable draw solutes (e.g., NaCl, Na2SO4), the impacts of the FO-based coupled system are almost completely associated to the energy required to run the downstream recovery step. On the contrary, the management of the draw solution, i.e., its replacement and the required additions due to potential losses during the filtration cycles, plays a dominant role in the environmental burdens associated with FO-based systems exploiting less sustainable draw solute, such as MgCl2.

Environmental sustainability of forward osmosis: The role of draw solute and its management / Giagnorio, M.; Casasso, A.; Tiraferri, A.. - In: ENVIRONMENT INTERNATIONAL. - ISSN 0160-4120. - 152:(2021), p. 106498. [10.1016/j.envint.2021.106498]

Environmental sustainability of forward osmosis: The role of draw solute and its management

Giagnorio M.;Casasso A.;Tiraferri A.
2021

Abstract

Forward osmosis (FO) is a promising technology for the treatment of complex water and wastewater streams. Studies around FO are focusing on identifying potential applications and on overcoming its technological limitations. Another important aspect to be addressed is the environmental sustainability of FO. With the aim to partially fill this gap, this study presents a life cycle analysis (LCA) of a potential full-scale FO system. From a purely environmental standpoint, results suggest that significantly higher impacts would be associated with the deployment of thermolytic, organic, and fertilizer-based draw solutes, compared to more accessible inorganic compounds. The influent draw osmotic pressure in FO influences the design of the real-scale filtration system and in turn its environmental sustainability. In systems combining FO with a pressure-driven membrane process to recover the draw solute (reverse osmosis or nanofiltration), the environmental sustainability is governed by a trade-off between the energy required by the regeneration step and the draw solution management. With the deployment of environmentally sustainable draw solutes (e.g., NaCl, Na2SO4), the impacts of the FO-based coupled system are almost completely associated to the energy required to run the downstream recovery step. On the contrary, the management of the draw solution, i.e., its replacement and the required additions due to potential losses during the filtration cycles, plays a dominant role in the environmental burdens associated with FO-based systems exploiting less sustainable draw solute, such as MgCl2.
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Utilizza questo identificativo per citare o creare un link a questo documento: http://hdl.handle.net/11583/2895716