Reverse osmosis (RO) is a widely used and rapidly growing desalination technology. A major disadvantage of this process is that the concentrate from the RO process, which could be as much as 25% of the feed stream, represents a polluting stream. This waste stream could pose a significant challenge to the implementation of this process, particularly for inland communities which do not have the option of ocean disposal. An excellent environmentally benign approach to disposal could be beneficial reuse of the waste stream. This study presents two innovative beneficial reuse strategies for RO concentrate produced by an integrated membrane system (IMS) from a wastewater reclamation facility. The technologies evaluated in this study included bipolar membrane electrodialysis (BMED) for conversion of RO concentrate into mixed acid and mixed base streams, and electrochlorination (EC) for onsite chlorine generation. Bench-scale studies conducted with BMED demonstrated that RO concentrate could be desalted while producing mixed acids and mixed bases with concentrations as high as 0.2N. Similarly, the EC process was capable of producing a 0.6% hypochlorite solution from RO concentrate. The acids and bases as well as the hypochlorite produced could be directly applied to the RO process as well as upstream pre-treatment processes. A preliminary economic evaluation of the viability of these two approaches was conducted by conducting rough order of magnitude cost estimates based on the bench-scale performance of these processes on RO concentrate. A comparison of the overall costs of an Integrated Membrane System utilizing these innovative reuse strategies with conventional disposal options and thermal zero liquid discharge treatment is presented. This comparison indicates that a reuse approach might be economically viable for inland wastewater reuse facilities that utilize RO membranes and have limited options for concentrate disposal.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Materials Science(all)
- Physical and Theoretical Chemistry
- Filtration and Separation