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Simulation of Forward Osmosis Flow in a Two-Dimensional Asymmetric Membrane Channel With Draw Channel Circular Baffle Implementation

[+] Author Affiliations
James R. L. Koch, Ramesh K. Agarwal

Washington University in St. Louis, St. Louis, MO

Paper No. AJKFluids2015-3126, pp. V001T03A004; 6 pages
  • ASME/JSME/KSME 2015 Joint Fluids Engineering Conference
  • Volume 1: Symposia
  • Seoul, South Korea, July 26–31, 2015
  • Conference Sponsors: Fluids Engineering Division
  • ISBN: 978-0-7918-5721-2
  • Copyright © 2015 by ASME


Forward Osmosis (FO) driven asymmetric membrane filtration is a developing technology which shows promise for seawater desalination and wastewater treatment. Due to the fact that asymmetric membranes are widely used in conjunction with this technology, internal concentration polarization (ICP), a flow-entrainment effect occurring within such membranes, is a significant if not dominant source of overall osmotic pressure loss across the membrane. Accurate modeling of ICP effects is therefore very critical for accurate Computational Fluid Dynamic (CFD) modeling of asymmetric membranes. A related, dilutive effect known as external concentration polarization (ECP) also develops on both the rejection and draw sides of the membrane, further contributing to osmotic pressure loss. In order to increase the overall water flux, circular spacers can be implemented within the draw channel of FO cross-flow membrane exchange units to decrease the effects of ICP and draw ECP. The drawback of spacer inclusions is an increased pressure loss across the length of the feed channel. The system efficiency gained by the decrease in ECP must therefore be weighed against the energy cost of hydraulically making up lost channel pressure. To model the geometry of a FO cross-flow channel, the open source CFD package OpenFOAM is used. A compressible flow model with explicit boundary conditions is developed to simulate the flux transfer and ICP effects present within an asymmetric membrane when exposed to a NaCl solution. Results are validated by comparison with the numerical data generated by earlier models of asymmetric membranes implemented by other investigators using similar simulation conditions.

Copyright © 2015 by ASME



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