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Table 5

Comparison of potential saline effluent treatment methods/processes

MethodAdvantagesLimitationsFuture research prospectsTechnology statusPotential application
Reverse osmosis (RO) Lower capital cost, High treatment efficiency, Easy scale-up, and Control Need for pre-treatment system
Limited for hypersaline water
Membrane fouling
High electric energy consumption 
Membrane material improvements, Scale inhibitors
Renewable energy integration (photovoltaic solar power) 
Commercial scale (leading technology) Seawater/brackish water desalination (Greenlee et al. 2009)
Industrial and saline wastewater treatment 
Thermal multi-stage flash evaporation Handle high salinity, Simple layout, Reliable performance Energy-intensive, High capital cost, Corrosion and scaling More efficient and low-cost construction materials, Use of renewable energy and cogeneration power plants Commercial scale Seawater or brackish water desalination (Al-Sahali & Ettouney 2007) 
Ion-exchange process The capability of treating concentrated brackish water, Selective removal of metal ions and organic anionic components Resin cost and regeneration, transfer of impurities to sludge, High maintenance, and operational costs Process intensification for large-scale application Commercial scale Inorganic industrial wastewater, Textile wastewater (Moosavirad et al. 2015) 
Electrodialysis (ED) High water recovery and salt removal, High segregation of metals, Relatively low energy consumption Scaling, Membrane fouling, High capital cost, Organic matter, colloids, Inefficient for silica removal Selection of membrane materials and stack to suit compatibility with the feed Commercial scale Brackish water desalination, RO brine (Korngold et al. 2009; Zhang et al. 2012), Electroplating industry (Al-Amshawee et al. 2020) 
Membrane bioreactor (MBR) treatment Low footprint,
handle high TSS and organic pollutants, High-quality effluent 
Salinity pre-treatment, Fouling Challenges of fouling control, Pollutant removal, Cost-effectiveness and competitiveness in specific fields of application Commercial scale Vegetable oil refinery wastewater (Abdollahzadeh Sharghi et al. 2020),
High strength wastewater (fat, oil, grease) (Jalilnejad Falizi et al. 2018) 
Membrane distillation (MD) Low electrical energy consumption,
High salt rejection, Handle high salinity (up to 20 wt%) 
Membrane fouling and wetting Potential of integrating with a waste heat source and solar energy, Fabrication of super-hydrophobic membrane materials R&D scale Petrochemical industrial effluents (Osman et al. 2019), Dairy saline effluent (Abdelkader et al. 2019), RO concentrates (Camacho et al. 2013), Metabolic wastewater (Susanto 2011) 
Forward Osmosis (FO) Less energy-intensive than RO, Draw solution flexibility Issues of reverse salt flux and concentration polarization Development of suitable membranes and draw solution R&D scale Landfill leachate treatment (Cath et al. 2006), Concentration of industrial waste (Cath et al. 2006; Zhao et al. 2012) 
MethodAdvantagesLimitationsFuture research prospectsTechnology statusPotential application
Reverse osmosis (RO) Lower capital cost, High treatment efficiency, Easy scale-up, and Control Need for pre-treatment system
Limited for hypersaline water
Membrane fouling
High electric energy consumption 
Membrane material improvements, Scale inhibitors
Renewable energy integration (photovoltaic solar power) 
Commercial scale (leading technology) Seawater/brackish water desalination (Greenlee et al. 2009)
Industrial and saline wastewater treatment 
Thermal multi-stage flash evaporation Handle high salinity, Simple layout, Reliable performance Energy-intensive, High capital cost, Corrosion and scaling More efficient and low-cost construction materials, Use of renewable energy and cogeneration power plants Commercial scale Seawater or brackish water desalination (Al-Sahali & Ettouney 2007) 
Ion-exchange process The capability of treating concentrated brackish water, Selective removal of metal ions and organic anionic components Resin cost and regeneration, transfer of impurities to sludge, High maintenance, and operational costs Process intensification for large-scale application Commercial scale Inorganic industrial wastewater, Textile wastewater (Moosavirad et al. 2015) 
Electrodialysis (ED) High water recovery and salt removal, High segregation of metals, Relatively low energy consumption Scaling, Membrane fouling, High capital cost, Organic matter, colloids, Inefficient for silica removal Selection of membrane materials and stack to suit compatibility with the feed Commercial scale Brackish water desalination, RO brine (Korngold et al. 2009; Zhang et al. 2012), Electroplating industry (Al-Amshawee et al. 2020) 
Membrane bioreactor (MBR) treatment Low footprint,
handle high TSS and organic pollutants, High-quality effluent 
Salinity pre-treatment, Fouling Challenges of fouling control, Pollutant removal, Cost-effectiveness and competitiveness in specific fields of application Commercial scale Vegetable oil refinery wastewater (Abdollahzadeh Sharghi et al. 2020),
High strength wastewater (fat, oil, grease) (Jalilnejad Falizi et al. 2018) 
Membrane distillation (MD) Low electrical energy consumption,
High salt rejection, Handle high salinity (up to 20 wt%) 
Membrane fouling and wetting Potential of integrating with a waste heat source and solar energy, Fabrication of super-hydrophobic membrane materials R&D scale Petrochemical industrial effluents (Osman et al. 2019), Dairy saline effluent (Abdelkader et al. 2019), RO concentrates (Camacho et al. 2013), Metabolic wastewater (Susanto 2011) 
Forward Osmosis (FO) Less energy-intensive than RO, Draw solution flexibility Issues of reverse salt flux and concentration polarization Development of suitable membranes and draw solution R&D scale Landfill leachate treatment (Cath et al. 2006), Concentration of industrial waste (Cath et al. 2006; Zhao et al. 2012) 
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