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Forward osmosis moves a step closer to commercialization

By Gerald Ondrey |

Oasys Water Inc. (Cambridge, Mass.; www.oasyswater.com) has commercialized a forward-osmosis (FO) membrane as the next step toward introducing its lower-cost desalination and water-reuse technology. The membrane, developed by Professor Menachem Elimelech, chair of chemical engineering at Yale University (New Haven, Conn.; www.yale.edu), is a polyamide thin-film composite that can be produced on conventional manufacturing lines, says Lisa Sorgini, vice president of markets and strategy at Oasys Water. “The Oasys membrane is roughly 60% thinner than standard reverse-osmosis (RO) membranes thereby reducing resistance to water passage without reducing salt rejection,” she says. As in RO, FO uses a semi-permeable membrane to separate fresh water from dissolved solutes, with the separation driven by an osmotic pressure gradient. In FO, a salt solution of higher concentration draws purified water from the (lower concentration) feed stream through the membrane. Purified water is then obtained by evaporating away the salt of the “draw” solution. The Oasys Engineered Osmosis (EO) process uses a patented ammonium-carbonate draw solution that, at high concentrations, can provide osmotic pressures in excess of 400 atm making…
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