Treatment of shale gas drilling flowback fluids (SGDFs) by forward osmosis: Membrane fouling and mitigation

Gang Chen, Zhouwei Wang, Long D. Nghiem, Xue Mei Li, Ming Xie, Baolong Zhao, Mengxi Zhang, Jianfeng Song, Tao He

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

115 Citations (SciVal)


A polyamide thin-film composite (TFC) forward osmosis (FO) membrane was fabricated and compared to a commercially available cellulose acetate (CTA) membrane for treating shale gas drilling flow-back fluids (SGDFs). The polyamide TFC membrane outperformed its CTA counterpart in terms of pure water flux and reverse salt flux when synthetic brine was used as the feed. More severe fouling was observed for the polyamide TFC membrane as compared to the CTA counterpart when treating SGDF. Very quick buildup of fouling was identified for TFC membrane but not significant for CTA membrane. Ultrafiltration pre-treatment delayed but did not alleviate fouling formation. Surface modification of the TFC membrane by poly(ethylene gycol) (PEG) grafting resulted in reduced membrane fouling and marginal decrease in water flux.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)113-120
Number of pages8
Early online date18 Feb 2015
Publication statusPublished - 15 Jun 2015


  • Forward osmosis
  • High salinity water
  • Membrane fouling
  • PEGylation
  • Shale gas

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Chemistry(all)
  • Chemical Engineering(all)
  • Materials Science(all)
  • Water Science and Technology
  • Mechanical Engineering


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