Salinity build-up in osmotic membrane bioreactors: Causes, impacts, and potential cures

Xiaoye Song, Ming Xie, Yun Li, Guoxue Li, Wenhai Luo

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

43 Citations (SciVal)


Osmotic membrane bioreactor (OMBR), which integrates forward osmosis (FO) with biological treatment, has been developed to advance wastewater treatment and reuse. OMBR is superior to conventional MBR, particularly in terms of higher effluent quality, lower membrane fouling propensity, and higher membrane fouling reversibility. Nevertheless, advancement and future deployment of OMBR are hindered by salinity build-up in the bioreactor (e.g., up to 50 mS/cm indicated by the mixed liquor conductivity), due to high salt rejection of the FO membrane and reverse diffusion of the draw solution. This review comprehensively elucidates the relative significance of these two mechanisms towards salinity build-up and its associated effects in OMBR operation. Recently proposed strategies to mitigate salinity build-up in OMBR are evaluated and compared to highlight their potential in practical applications. In addition, the complementarity of system optimization and modification to effectively manage salinity build-up are recommended for sustainable OMBR development.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)301-310
Number of pages10
JournalBioresource Technology
Early online date23 Feb 2018
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jun 2018

Bibliographical note

Copyright © 2018 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.


  • Biological treatment
  • Draw solution
  • Forward osmosis (FO)
  • Osmotic membrane bioreactor (OMBR)
  • Salinity build-up

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Bioengineering
  • Environmental Engineering
  • Renewable Energy, Sustainability and the Environment
  • Waste Management and Disposal


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