Enhancing recovery of reverse osmosis desalination : side-stream oxidation of antiscalants to precipitate salts
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Brackish waters are now considered valuable alternative water resources. Reverse osmosis (RO) membranes are the most promising candidate for drinking water production through desalination. Low recovery (the fraction of influent water that becomes product water) prevents widespread application of RO inland because of the high cost of waste disposal. The recovery of a brackish RO system is limited by sparingly soluble salts that become supersaturated and precipitate on the membrane surface. Precipitation is controlled through pH adjustment and antiscalant addition; however, at high salt supersaturation, antiscalant control is overcome and precipitation occurs. To further increase RO recovery and avoid precipitation, a three-stage process treated the waste stream (concentrate) of a brackish water RO system through antiscalant degradation, salt precipitation, and solid/liquid separation. Ozone (O3) and hydrogen peroxide (H2O2) were used to degrade antiscalants, pH elevation and base (NaOH/NaHCO3) addition were used to precipitate sparingly soluble salts, and microfiltration (0.1 μm) was used to separate precipitated solids from the water. Optimal parameters (pH, ozone dose, H2O2/O3 ratio, antiscalant type and concentration, water composition) for antiscalant oxidation were determined. The influence of antiscalant type and concentration and pH was investigated for the precipitation and filtration stages. Results were obtained for particle size distribution, extent of precipitation, particle morphology, and particle composition. The effect of ozonation on precipitation and filtration was evaluated, with a comparison to two-stage treatment consisting of precipitation and filtration. Antiscalant oxidation is controlled by bivalent cation coordination, while pH and ozone dose significantly affect the extent of oxidation. The addition of antiscalant prior to precipitation caused changes to particle size and morphology, and results varied with water composition and antiscalant type and concentration. Ozonation, even for small times such as one minute, prior to precipitation and filtration increased calcium precipitation and decomposed the antiscalant enough to remove the effect of the antiscalant on particle characteristics. During ozonation, antiscalants were not completely oxidized, but the partial oxidation products did not seem to affect precipitation. Ozonation also reduced the fouling of microfiltration membranes used for solid/liquid separation. Results indicated concentrate treatment can significantly increase the overall recovery of an RO system.