In a recent interview, Managing Editor Robyn Tucker talked with Oasys Water CEO Jim Matheson about the difference between forward osmosis (FO) and reverse osmosis (RO) and the application possibilities for both types of equipment. Both technologies use membranes to remove particulates and dissolved solids from a water stream.
RO has been a primary treatment method in all water segments and does so using high pressure movement through a membrane. However, forward osmosis uses nature to draw water across the membrane, leaving contaminants on the other side. RO and FO have their places in the industrial water treatment landscape. RO is a technology that serves many residential, municipal and industrial applications around the world, including desalination.
However, RO is limited when the water has high total dissolved solids (TDS); is complex; or contains high silica, mineral or organic content. FO is a more appropriate choice when treating "abused" industrial water, such as produced water in the upstream and gas industry, mining wastewater, and water that results from flue gas wash down in many industrial facilities.
Matheson states that the mission of manufacturers is to deliver FO systems so that abused industrial water can be transformed into valuable freshwater. With many industries being required to meet a zero liquid discharge regulation, this technology can be a valuable component of a complete industrial water treatment system.
"We believe that the magnitude and complexity of the world’s water treatment challenges allow plenty of room for RO to continue to serve the world well while [manufacturers of FO technology] bring the benefits and capabilities of FO into an entirely new regime of abused industrial water transformation," Matheson says.