Despite the tremendous progress made toward the realization of wider application for forward osmosis (FO) technologies, lack of suitable draw solutes that provide high water flux, low reverse solute flux, and facile recovery has hindered commercial development. An extensive variety of osmotic agents have been investigated during the past decade, and while simple inorganic salts remain the most widely used, organic-coated magnetic nanoparticles (MNPs) offer exploitable properties that hold great promise. In addition to size-mitigated reverse flux and low-cost recovery via magnetic separation, devitalized MNPs provide enhanced osmotic performance when compared to that of the ungrafted coating material at similar concentration levels, a consequence of greater nonideal solution behavior. This nonideality has been assessed using a simple, semiempirical model and is largely attributable to the increased solvent-accessible surface area and enhanced hydration. When attached to MNPs, polymers appear to behave osmotically as much smaller molecules, providing higher osmotic pressures and improved FO performance.
Part of the book: Osmotically Driven Membrane Processes