What is Forward Osmosis?


Forward osmosis (FO) is an osmotic process that uses a semi-permeable membrane to effect separation of water from dissolved solutes. The driving force for this separation is an osmotic pressure gradient between a solution of high concentration, often referred to as a “draw” and a solution of lower concentration, referred to as the “feed”.

The osmotic pressure gradient is used to induce a net flow of water through the membrane into the draw, thus effectively concentrating the feed.  The draw solution can consist of a single or multiple simple salts or can be a substance specifically tailored for forward osmosis applications.  The feed solution can be a dilute product stream, a waste stream or seawater.

Most of the applications of FO, thus fall into three broad categories: product concentration, waste concentration or production of clean water as a bi-product of the concentration process.  The most efficient FO applications combine all three.  At it’s best, FO can concentrate waste, turning waste into a product all while producing clean water.

The Forward Osmosis process has applications in many different industries, including but not limited to: Water Reuse and Desalination; Food and Beverage; Mining; Oil and Gas; and the Power Industry.

FO Applications in Different Industries:

+ Water Reuse
+ Water Desalination
+ Brine Concentration
+ Product concentration (examples: juice, chemicals)
+ Produced water treatment