Pressure retarded osmosis (PRO) can be used to exploit the mixing energy e.g. between river water and sea water. A PRO membrane must be highly permeable for water, whereas salt ions should be retained. Furthermore, the structure parameter of the membrane support and backing structure must be low. This paper summarises an assessment of the pressure dependency of the structure parameter for flat sheet membranes, and a transport model for PRO and procedures for determination of the pressure dependency of the structure parameter are presented. The results from laboratory experiments show that that the structure parameter increases significantly with increasing trans-membrane pressure. The increase in the structure parameter was observed to depend on both characteristics of the membrane and the fresh water spacer. Using a finely textured tricot spacer reduced the pressure dependency on the structure parameter, compared to a coarser spacer. Applying a non-woven backing material between the membrane and the fresh water spacer also reduced the impact of pressure. The results show that membranes suitable for river water/sea water PRO must have a sufficiently low structure parameter and additionally resist severe deformation at relevant operating pressures.
Part of the book: Osmotically Driven Membrane Processes