The author, environmental scientist Bàrbara Rosselló, studied the applications of forward osmosis in wastewater pre-treatment
FACSA Chair prizes acknowledge the best Bachelor’s research work, the best Master’s research work and the best doctoral thesis in innovation within integral water cycle
Reverse osmosis is becoming very popular due to its applications in drinking water purification, but forward osmosis is still a great unknown. In both technologies water flows through a semi-permeable membrane that retains molecules. However, while in reverse osmosis the driving force of water flow is hydraulic pressure (physical), in forward osmosis it is the difference of solute concentration, i.e. the chemical pressure differential, what makes water move. As forward osmosis does not require using a high-pressure pump, energy consumption is much lower, but operational parameters and membrane fouling still need to be controlled.
Environmental scientist Bàrbara Rosselló Gomila studied the application of forward osmosis to convert wastewater into an effluent rich in volatile fatty acids (VFAs) up to 300 mg per litre. A step necessary to treat the resulting solution with microbial desalination cells. This applied research work was promoted and funded by company Aqualia and was carried out at LEQUIA laboratories under the supervision of Dr Gaëtan Blandin and the tutoring of Dr Joaquim Comas. Results obtained allowed Aqualia developing an innovative low-cost solution to desalinate water: a bioelectrogenic system to valorise organic matter contained in urban wastewater as energy source. This is the main objective of EU project H2020 MIDES co-funded by the European Commission (Ref. 685793) and led by Aqualia.
Bàrbara Rosselló had to face two main challenges in her Bachelor’s research work: i) the control of membrane fouling and ii) the determination of operational parameters that mostly influence the rejection and degradation of volatile fatty acids (VFAs). Results, which were published in the prestigious Journal of Membrane Science, show that VFAs rejection depends on their molecular weight but also on pH. Thus, rejection is almost 90% when working at pH 7.5. As for fouling, it causes the formation of a biofilm that degrades fatty acids during the filtration. This phenomenon is mitigated by means of a pre-treatment based on microfiltration and osmotic backwash between tests. However, after some experiments the membrane is damaged in an irreversible way, which should be studied.
FACSA Chair Prizes of Universitat Jaume I acknowledge the best Bachelor’s research work, the best Master’s research work and the best doctoral thesis in innovation in integral water management presented during the last term. Research conducted by Bàrbara Rosselló made relevant contributions and opened new working lines for forward osmosis. For this reason, it was awarded with the prize to the best Bachelor’s research work consisting in 300 Euros. The award ceremony will take place next 4th July at «Casa dels Caragols» of Castelló de la Plana.
Further information on the event: www.catedradelagua.uji.es/evento/acto-de-entrega-iii-premios-catedra-facsa-de-innovacion-en-el-ciclo-integral-del-agua-de-la-universitat-jaume-i/
Publication: Blandin, G., Rosselló, B., Monsalvo, V. M., Batlle-Vilanova, P., VIÑAS, J. M., Rogalla, F. & Comas, J. 2019. Volatile fatty acids concentration in real wastewater by forward osmosis. Journal of Membrane Science. http://midesh2020.eu/wp-content/uploads/2019/01/VFA-concentration-in-real-wastewater-by-FO_JMS_2019.pdf