Dewatering of POME digestate using lignosulfonate driven forward osmosis

Daniel Johnson, Ang Wei Lun, Abdul Wahab Mohammed, Nidal Hilal

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


High demand for palm oil results in the production of huge quantities of palm oil mill effluent (POME) wastewater containing a high amount of organics. Currently, this is often processed by anaerobic digestion, but the waste water still requires further processing. Dewatering of POME digestate could simultaneously recover nutrients for use as organic fertiliser and treat water sufficiently to allow other uses. This work investigates the feasibility of using a forward osmosis (FO) process driven by lignosulfonate draw solutions. It was found that water fluxes for pure water and simulated POME digestate feeds were lower for lignosulfonates than NaCl as draw solutes, but had much lower reverse solute fluxes. Reverse solute flux is of great importance for dewatering of POME digestate, as concentration of salts in the dewatered feed will preclude their use as organic fertilisers. Na lignosulfonate showed both higher water fluxes and lower reverse solute flux than the Ca lignosulfonate. Water fluxes when using the simulated POME digestate were lower than predicted from the directly measured osmotic pressures of the solutions, suggesting increased membrane resistance due to fouling or concentration polarisation effects. In addition, osmotic pressures of organic solutions were measured directly from dead-end filtration measurements. This showed that the relationship between osmolality measured from freezing point depression measurements and osmotic pressure of solutions varies for different solutes, suggesting that osmolality measurements do not give a reliable measure of osmotic pressure when comparing different organic solutions.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number116151
JournalSeparation and Purification Technology
StatePublished - Mar 18 2020


  • Forward osmosis
  • Lignosulfonate
  • Membrane technology
  • POME dewatering
  • Palm oil mill effluent

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Analytical Chemistry
  • Filtration and Separation


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