Blended Fertilizers as Draw Solutions for Fertilizer-Drawn Forward Osmosis Desalination

In fertilizer-drawn forward osmosis (FDFO) desalination, the final nutrient concentration (nitrogen, phosphorus, potassium (NPK)) in the product water is essential for direct fertigation and to avoid over fertilization. Our study with 11 selected fertilizers indicate that blending of two or more single fertilizers as draw solution (DS) can achieve significantly lower nutrient concentration in the FDFO product water rather than using single fertilizer alone. For example, blending KCl and NH4H2PO4 as DS can result in 0.61/1.35/1.70 g/L of N/P/K, which is comparatively lower than using them individually as DS. The nutrient composition and concentration in the final FDFO product water can also be adjusted by selecting low nutrient fertilizers containing complementary nutrients and in different ratios to produce prescription mixtures. However, blending fertilizers generally resulted in slightly reduced bulk osmotic pressure and water flux in comparison to the sum of the osmotic pressures and water fluxes of the two individual DSs as used alone. The performance ratio or PR (ratio of actual water flux to theoretical water flux) of blended fertilizer DS was observed to be between the PR of the two fertilizer solutions tested individually. In some cases, such as urea, blending also resulted in significant reduction in N nutrient loss by reverse diffusion in presence of other fertilizer species.