Assessment of different nanofiltration and reverse osmosis membranes for simultaneous removal of arsenic and boron from spent geothermal water
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One of the factors that determine agricultural crops’ yield is the quality of water used during irrigation. In this study, we assessed the usability of spent geothermal water for agricultural irrigation after membrane treatment. Preliminary membrane tests were conducted on a laboratory-scale set up followed by mini-pilot scale tests in a geothermal heating center. In part I, three commercially available membranes (XLE BWRO, NF90, and Osmonics CK- NF) were tested using a cross-flow flat-sheet membrane testing unit (Sepa CF II, GE-Osmonics) under constant applied pressure of 20 bar. In part II, different spiral wound membranes (TR-NE90-NF, TR-BE-BW, and BW30) other than the ones used in laboratory tests were employed for the mini-pilot scale studies in a continuous mode. Water recovery and applied pressure were maintained constant at 60% and 12 bar, respectively. Performances of the membranes were assessed in terms of the permeate flux, boron and arsenic removals. In laboratory tests, the permeate fluxes were measured as 94.3, 87.9, and 64.3 L m?2 h?1 for XLE BWRO, CK-NF and NF90 membranes, respectively. The arsenic removals were found as 99.0%, 87.5% and 83.6% while the boron removals were 56.8%, 54.2%, and 26.1% for XLE BWRO, NF90 and CK-NF membranes, respectively. In field tests, permeate fluxes were 49.9, 26.8 and 24.0 L m?2 h?1 for TR-NE90-NF, BW30-RO and TR-BE-BW membranes, respectively. Boron removals were calculated as 49.9%, 44.1% and 40.7% for TR-BE-BW, TR-NE90-NF and BW30-RO membranes, respectively. Removal efficiencies of arsenic in mini-pilot scale membrane tests were all over 90%. Quality of the permeate water produced was suitable for irrigation in terms of the electrical conductivity (EC) and the total dissolved solids (TDS) for all tested membranes with respect to guidelines set by the Turkish Ministry of Environment and Urbanisation (TMEU). However, XLE BWRO, CK-NF and NF90 membranes failed to meet the required limits for irrigation in terms of boron and arsenic concentrations in the product water. The permeate streams of TR-BE-BW, TR-NE90-NF and BW30-RO membranes complied with the irrigation water standards in terms of EC, TDS and arsenic concentration while boron concentration remained above the allowable limit. © 2020 Elsevier B.V.