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Demonstration Forward Osmosis Treatment System

Project ID: 326
Principal Investigator: Steve Dundorf
Research Topic: Desalination and Water Treatment
Priority Area Assignments: 2014 (Advanced Water Treatment), 2015 (Advanced Water Treatment)
Funded Fiscal Years: 2014
Keywords: water treatment, forward osmosis, native american, navajo, desalination, low energy

Research Question

Primary Research Question: Can forward osmosis wastewater to fertilizer (FO-WTF) be considered a viable non-potable water treatment option for low income users in remote locations?

Related Research Questions:
1) What overall recovery can be achieved and how much makeup water is required (theoretical vs actual)?
2) What is the fouling potential of the membranes?
3) What fertilizer concentration is required / too high (theoretical vs actual)?
4) What is a practical size for a full scale system?
5) How can this system be practically installed in a remote location such as the Navajo Nation?
6) Is this a technology that can be reasonably implemented when maintenance is unlikely and users probably have minimal technical skills for system repairs?
7) What might a full scale system cost?

Need and Benefit

In many arid regions wastewater represents an under utilized source of recycled water. However, wastewater contains feces, urine, surfactants, food wastes, pathogenic microorganisms, blood, and salts, which make it inappropriate for direct reuse for irrigation. Conventional tertiary treatment, which treats wastewater to levels considered appropriate for irrigation, is typically too costly for small-scale applications and does not remove salts. A low cost, low power system capable of treating wastewater generated in small communities to standards appropriate for reuse as irrigation water could find wide application in many arid regions. Such a system must be inexpensive, economical to install and operate, and should result in no impairment of land and water resources due to prolonged exposure of treated wastewater. The system described in this proposal may accomplish these goals and is ideally suited to application in small communities, such as the Navajo Nation, who want to utilize wastewater as an irrigation resource. The system is referred to as the FO-WTF process.

Contributing Partners


Research Products

Report will cover bench scale testing results at WWTP and pilot test results on Navajo Nation. If bench scale testing does not indicate further testing is prudent, the report will only cover bench scale testing.

This information was last updated on March 1, 2015
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