The fouling behavior during forward osmosis (FO) was investigated. Tannic acid was used as a model organic foulant for natural organic matter analysis since the main characteristics are similar, and calcium ions were added at different concentrations to explore the anti-pollution capability of FO membranes. The initial permeate flux and calcium ions strength were varied in different operating conditions to describe membrane fouling with membrane cleaning methods. The observed flux decline in FO changed dramatically with the type of foulant and the type of draw solution used to provide the osmotic driving force. Calcium ions aggravated membrane fouling and decreased transmembrane flux. Membrane cleaning methods included physical and physicochemical approaches, and there was no obvious difference among the typical cleaning methods (i.e., membrane flushing with different types of cleaning fluids at various crossflow velocities and backwashing with varying osmotic driving forces) with respect to flux recovery. Ultrasonic cleaning damaged the membrane structure and decreased permeate flux, and reverse diffusion of salt from the draw solution to the feed side accelerated after cleaning.

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