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Synthesis of polymer hydrogels as high water uptake for the use in forwarding Osmosis as draw agent

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Dr. Midhat Mattar

In the last decade, osmotically driven membrane processes have gained great popularity in wastewater treatment. Forward osmosis (FO) is the membrane separation process in which the osmotic pressure difference serves as the driving force for water transport, with a semi-permeable membrane acting as a separation medium. In a typical FO separation, the feed solution, i.e. saline water, passes through one side of a semipermeable membrane, and a draw agent of high osmotic pressure (compared to that of saline water) flows on the other side of the membrane. Due to the naturally driven osmotic flow, water permeates through the membrane from the feed solution to the draw agent side. After FO process, it is necessary to separate the water and draw agent for the recovery of pure water product and regeneration of draw agent for reuse in the FO process. To date, FO desalination has shown a number of potential advantages, such as reduced fouling propensity, easy cleaning, low cost and so on. In particular, when compared to the hydraulic pressure-driven membrane process reverse osmosis, the FO process does not require a high feed water pressure, thus demonstrating great potential to reduce energy consumption in desalination processes toward the thermodynamic minimum. 

The aim of our research project is to synthesis new polymer hydrogels that include different properties, which make the polymer more suitable for the use as draw solution in the forward osmosis process. 

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