Forward osmosis concentration of a vanadium leaching solution

Pengjia Dou, Shuwei Zhao, Jianfeng Song, Hailong He, Qianhong She,* Xue-Mei Li, Yue-Biao Zhang, Tao He*
J. Membr. Sci. 2019, 582, 167–171
Vanadium is an important rare element and has been widely used in metallurgical industry, aerospace industry and chemical industry due to its special physical and chemical properties. In this work we explored the feasibility of using forward osmosis (FO) to concentrate the vanadium leaching solution (VLS) using saturated sodium chloride as the draw solution. The effluent draw solution can be directly reused as a raw material in the vanadium production process without the need for regeneration. The VLS concentration performance was evaluated using commercial thin film composite (TFC) and cellulose triacetate (CTA) FO membranes. It was found that the FO water flux decline was due to the coupled effects of VLS concentration and fouling. TFC membrane exhibited higher initial water flux but also experienced more severe fouling and faster flux decline. Importantly, this study observed an existence of a critical concentration factor (CF) during VLS concentration. Below the critical CF, membrane fouling was mainly caused by surface crystallization and flux decline was relatively milder; above the critical CF, severe bulk crystallization occurred in the feed VLS, which caused significant membrane scaling and dramatical flux decline. The critical CF concept was further used to guide the FO operation for VLS concentration in this study. While severe membrane fouling at a CF above the critical value could be removed by a brief water rinse, operating the FO below the critical CF is preferred for which cyclic VLS concentration process was demonstrated to be feasible without the need for periodic membrane cleaning. Overall, the results suggest that the FO can be a promising solution for highly efficient and low-energy VLS concentration.