Performance Evaluation of Hybrid Reverse-Forward Osmosis (HRFO) Laboratory Model to Increase Production Efficiency of Desalination Process

Document Type : Research Paper


1 PhD Candidate, Faculty of Civil Engineering and Architecture, Shahid Chamran University of Ahvaz, Ahvaz, Iran

2 MSc Student, Faculty of Civil Engineering and Architecture, Shahid Chamran University of Ahvaz, Ahvaz, Iran

3 Prof., Faculty of Civil Engineering and Architecture, Shahid Chamran University of Ahvaz, Ahvaz, Iran

4 Prof., Nanotechnology Research Center, Ahvaz Jundishapur University of Medical Sciences, Ahvaz, Iran


Today, water desalination methods are of great importance in solving the freshwater crisis in the world, so that in recent years, the world's water desalination capacity has increased dramatically. Among them, the reverse osmosis membrane technology has been the most popular and the most commonly used. There are problems such as high energy consumption, high operating costs, and fouling in this method. The objective of this paper was to use reverse and forward osmosis membrane methods simultaneously in a hybrid reverse-forward osmosis setting, which enabled us to take advantage of the benefits of forward osmosis such as not being dependent on high hydraulic pressure, lower cost and less membrane fouling compared to reverse osmosis. Another objective of the study was to evaluate the permeate water production efficiency of desalination with this hybrid method. It is expected that using the hybrid method will reduce the required pressure for conducting reverse osmosis process to achieve a specified permeate flux, because it reduces cost and energy. An HRFO laboratory pilot with a capacity of 50 m3/day was designed and set up in the Hydraulic Lab of Shahid Chamran University of Ahvaz for running hybrid experiments. The design of the pilot was such that it could operate in both reverse osmosis and HRFO. HRFO experiments were carried out at pressures of 4.5 to 10.5 bar for Ahvaz urban water as feed solution, as well as NaCl as draw solution with a concentration of 2000 to 10000 mg/L via the experimental HRFO plant. It was found that adding the forward osmosis to reverse osmosis at the best situation (lowest pressure and highest concentration of draw solution) can increase the permeate water production efficiency of desalination by 55.12%. The best hybridization degree of these two methods was determined to be 64.5% for reverse osmosis and 35.5% for forward osmosis.


Ali, H., Hafez, A. I., Khedr, M., Gadallah, H., Sabry, R., Ali, S. S., et al. 2017. Techno-economic evaluation of forward/reverse osmosis hybrid system for saline water desalination. Desalination and Water Treatment, 98, 66-77.
Ban, S. H., Im, S. J., Cho, J. & Jang, A. 2019. Comparative performance of FO-RO hybrid and two-pass SWRO desalination processes: Boron removal. Desalination, 471, 114114.
Baranowski, T. M. & Leboeuf, E. J. 2008. Consequence management utilizing optimization. Journal of Water Resources Planning and Management, 134, 386-394.
Blandin, G., Verliefde, A. R., Tang, C. Y. & Le-Clech, P. 2015. Opportunities to reach economic sustainability in forward osmosis–reverse osmosis hybrids for seawater desalination. Desalination, 363, 26-36.
Choi, Y. J., Choi, J. S., Oh, H. J., Lee, S., Yang, D. R. & Kim, J. H. 2009. Toward a combined system of forward osmosis and reverse osmosis for seawater desalination. Desalination, 247, 239-246.
Choi, Y. J., Hwang, T. M., Oh, H., Nam, S. H., Lee, S., Jeon, J. C., et al. 2011. Development of a simulation program for the forward osmosis and reverse osmosis process. Desalination and Water Treatment, 33, 273-282.
Chu, H., Zhao, F., Tan, X., Yang, L., Zhou, X., Zhao, J., et al. 2016. The impact of temperature on membrane fouling in algae harvesting. Algal Research, 16, 458-464.
Chung, T. S., Li, X., Ong, R. C., Ge, Q., Wang, H. & Han, G. 2012. Emerging forward osmosis (FO) technologies and challenges ahead for clean water and clean energy applications. Current Opinion in Chemical Engineering, 1, 246-257.
Djebedjian, B., Gad, H., Khaled, I. & Rayan, A. 2009. Experimental and analytical study of a reverse osmosis desalination plant. Mansoura Engineering Journal, 34, 71-90.
Giagnorio, M., Ricceri, F. & Tiraferri, A. 2019. Desalination of brackish groundwater and reuse of wastewater by forward osmosis coupled with nanofiltration for draw solution recovery. Water Research, 153, 134-143.
Hughes, L. 2003. Climate change and Australia: trends, projections and impacts. Austral Ecology, 28, 423-443.
Im, S. J., Jeong, S., Jeong, S. & Jang, A. 2020. Techno-economic evaluation of an element-scale forward osmosis-reverse osmosis hybrid process for seawater desalination. Desalination, 476, 114240.
Lambrechts, R. & Sheldon, M. 2019. Performance and energy consumption evaluation of a fertiliser drawn forward osmosis (FDFO) system for water recovery from brackish water. Desalination, 456, 64-73.
McCutcheon, J. R. & Elimelech, M. 2006. Influence of concentrative and dilutive internal concentration polarization on flux behavior in forward osmosis. Journal of Membrane Science, 284, 237-247.
McDonald, R. I., Green, P., Balk, D., Fekete, B. M., Revenga, C., Todd, M., et al. 2011. Urban growth, climate change, and freshwater availability. Proceedingsof the National Academy of Sciences, 108, 6312-6317.
Mearns, L. O., Rosenzweig, C. & Goldberg, R. 1996. The effect of changes in daily and interannual climatic variability on CERES-Wheat: a sensitivity study. Climatic Change, 32, 257-292.
Mohammadi,T., Moghadam, M. K. & Madaeni, S. 2003. Hydrodynamic factors affecting flux and fouling during reverse osmosis of seawater. Desalination, 151, 239-245.
Oli Stream Analyzer 3.1.3 2010. OLI Systems, Inc. Newjercy, USA.
Park, S. M., Koo, J. W., Choi, Y. K., Lee, S., Sohn, J. & Hwang, T. M. 2012. Optimization of hybrid system consisting of forward osmosis and reverse osmosis: a Monte Carlo simulation approach. Desalination and Water Treatment, 43, 274-280.
Ridgway, H. F. & Flemming, H. C. 1996. Membrane biofouling in water treatment membrane processes. McGraw Hill, New York.
Seo, J., Kim, Y. M., Chae, S. H., Lim, S. J., Park, H. & Kim, J. H. 2019. An optimization strategy for a forward osmosis-reverse osmosis hybrid process for wastewater reuse and seawater desalination: a modeling study. Desalination, 463, 40-49.
Shannon, M. A., Bohn, P. W., Elimelech, M., Georgiadis, J. G., Mariñas, B. J. & Mayes, A. M. 2008. Science and technology for water purification in the coming decades. Nature, 452, 301-310.
Shon, H. K., Phuntsho, S., Zhang, T. C. & Surampalli, R. Y. 2015. Forward osmosis: fundamental and applications, American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE).
Suwaileh, W., Johnson, D., Khodabakhshi, S. & Hilal, N. 2019. Cross-linked layer by layer forward osmosis membrane for brackish water desalination. Journal of Membrane Science, 583(1), 267-277.
Tang, C. Y., She, Q., Lay, W. C. L., Wang, R. & Fane, A. G. 2010. Coupled effects of internal concentration polarization and fouling on flux behavior of forward osmosis membranes during humic acid filtration. Journal of Membrane Science, 354, 123-133.
Vrouwenvelder, J., Manolarakis, S., Van Der Hoek, J., Van Paassen, J., Van Der Meer, W. G. J., Van Agtmaal, J., et al. 2008. Quantitative biofouling diagnosis in full scale nanofiltration and reverse osmosis installations. Water Research, 42, 4856-4868.
Wan, C. F. & Chung, T. S. 2018. Techno-economic evaluation of various RO+PRO and RO+FO integrated processes. Applied Energy, 212, 1038-1050.
Whetton, P., Fowler, A., Haylock, M. & Pittock, A. 1993. Implications of climate change due to the enhanced greenhouse effect on floods and droughts in Australia. Climatic Change, 25, 289-317.
Zaidi, S. J., Fadhillah, F., Khan, Z. & Ismail, A. 2015. Salt and water transport in reverse osmosis thin film composite seawater desalination membranes. Desalination, 368, 202-213.