Publication Details

Ansari, A. J., Hai, F. I., Price, W. E. & Nghiem, L. D. (2016). Phosphorus recovery from digested sludge centrate using seawater-driven forward osmosis. Separation and Purification Technology, 163 1-7.


In this study, we demonstrate a novel seawater-driven forward osmosis (FO) process to recover calcium phosphate precipitates from digested sludge centrate without any chemical addition and draw solute regeneration. The FO process effectively pre-concentrated phosphate and calcium in the digested sludge centrate. Spontaneous precipitation of calcium phosphate minerals in the digested sludge centrate was achieved by the sustained concentrative action of the FO process and the gradual pH increase due to the diffusion of protons to the draw solution. Pre-concentrating digested sludge centrate by three-fold resulted in a 92% recovery of phosphate via precipitation. The phosphate precipitate only constituted 3% of the total inorganic solids recovered, therefore subsequent treatment steps would be required to recover phosphorus in a useable form. A water flux decline of 30% from the initial value was observed as the digested sludge was concentrated by three-fold. This observed water flux decline was mostly attributed to the decrease in the effective osmotic driving force due to the increasingly concentrated feed solution and diluted draw solution. It is also noteworthy that membrane fouling was readily reversible. By flushing the membrane with deionised water and subjecting the membrane to feed and draw solutions with the same osmotic pressure as the initial conditions, complete water flux recovery could be achieved.

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