Forward osmosis research trends in desalination and wastewater treatment: A review of research trends over the past decade

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

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review


Issues of water scarcity and water security have driven the rapid development of various technologies to ensure water sustainability. The forward osmosis (FO) membrane process has been widely recognized as one of the more promising technologies to play an important role in alleviating the issues of water sustainability. Extensive research has been carried out worldwide to explore the potential of FO in desalination, water and wastewater treatment and reclamation. It is of the utmost importance to understand the topics of interest and research trends to further advance the development of FO process technology. In this study, a bibliometric analysis based on the Scopus database was carried out to identify and understand the global research trends of FO process based on 6 main analyses: basic growth trends, journals, countries, institutions, authors, and keywords. A total of 1462 article records published between 1967–2018 were extracted from Scopus and used as the raw data for bibliometric analysis using VOSviewer software. The total number of FO articles has sharply increased since 2009 and stabilized at around 250 publications in the past three years. The increase could be associated with the breakthrough in FO membrane science, where the contributions were from the 5 most productive countries: USA, China, Singapore, Australia, and South Korea. FO research started to diversify after the appearance of commercial FO membranes with improved characteristics, enabling the researchers to employ them for various application studies. Keywords analysis showed that the main directions of FO research could be categorized into three clusters: application of FO, membrane fouling study, and FO membrane synthesis. These bibliometric results provide a valuable reference and information on current research directions of FO for researchers and industry practitioners who are interested in FO technology.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number100886
JournalJournal of Water Process Engineering
StatePublished - Oct 2019


  • Bibliometric analysis
  • Desalination
  • Forward osmosis
  • VOSviewer
  • Water treatment

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biotechnology
  • Safety, Risk, Reliability and Quality
  • Waste Management and Disposal
  • Process Chemistry and Technology


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