The fertilizer-drawn forward osmosis (FDFO) was investigated for treating coal seam gas (CSG) produced water to generate nutrient rich solution for irrigation. Its performance was evaluated and compared with reverse osmosis (RO) in terms of specific energy consumption (SEC) and nutrient concentrations in the final product water. The RO-FDFO hybrid process was developed to further improve FDFO. The results showed that FDFO has the lowest SEC followed by the RO-FDFO and RO processes. The final nutrient concentration simulation demonstrated that the RO-FDFO hybrid process has lower final concentration, higher maximum recovery and lower nutrient loss than the stand alone FDFO process. Therefore, it was suggested that the RO-FDFO is the most effective treatment option for CSG produced water as well as favourable nutrient supply. Lastly, membrane fouling mechanism was examined in CSG RO brine treatment by FDFO, and the strategies for controlling fouling were critically evaluated. KNO3 exhibited the highest flux decline corresponding to the highest reverse salt flux, while the most severe membrane scaling was observed with calcium nitrate, primarily due to the reverse transport of calcium ions. To control membrane fouling in FDFO process, both physical flushing and chemical cleaning were examined. Membrane cleaning with citric acid of 5% resulted in a complete flux recovery.
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