Evaluating fertilizer-drawn forward osmosis performance in treating anaerobic palm oil mill effluent

Ruwaida Abdul Wahid, Wei Lun Ang, Abdul Wahab Mohammad, Daniel James Johnson, Nidal Hilal

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Fertilizer-drawn forward osmosis (FDFO) is a potential alternative to recover and reuse water and nutrients from agricultural wastewater, such as palm oil mill effluent that consists of 95% water and is rich in nutrients. This study investigated the potential of commercial fertilizers as draw solution (DS) in FDFO to treat anaerobic palm oil mill effluent (An-POME). The process parameters affecting FO were studied and optimized, which were then applied to fertilizer selection based on FO performance and fouling propensity. Six commonly used fertilizers were screened and assessed in terms of pure water flux (Jw) and reverse salt flux (JS ). Ammonium sulfate ((NH4 )2SO4 ), mono-ammonium phosphate (MAP), and potassium chloride (KCl) were further evaluated with An-POME. MAP showed the best performance against An-POME, with a high average water flux, low flux decline, the highest performance ratio (PR), and highest water recovery of 5.9% for a 4-h operation. In a 24-h fouling run, the average flux decline and water recovered were 84% and 15%, respectively. Both hydraulic flushing and osmotic backwashing cleaning were able to effectively restore the water flux. The results demonstrated that FDFO using commercial fertilizers has the potential for the treatment of An-POME for water recovery. Nevertheless, further investigation is needed to address challenges such as JS and the dilution factor of DS for direct use of fertigation.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number566
Issue number8
StatePublished - Aug 2021


  • Commercial fertilizer
  • Draw solution
  • Fertilizer-drawn forward osmosis
  • Forward osmosis
  • Palm oil mill effluent

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Chemical Engineering (miscellaneous)
  • Process Chemistry and Technology
  • Filtration and Separation


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