Unconventional oil and gas extraction is on the rise across the United States and comprises an integral component in meeting the nation’s energy needs. The primary by-product of this industrious process is produced water, which is a challenging matrix to remediate because of its complex physical and chemical composition. Forward osmosis is a viable option to treat high-salinity produced water; however, fouling has been an issue. This study aimed to treat produced water before using forward osmosis as a remediation option. Trials consisted of a series of five experiments in order to evaluate the performance of the membrane. Samples were treated by centrifugation, activated carbon, filtration, ferric chloride, as well as coagulants and a polymer. It can be concluded that forward osmosis can be used to extract water from high-salinity oil field brines and produced water, and that pretreating the produced water decreased the tendency for fouling. The pretreatment with the overall best performance was activated carbon, which also yielded the lowest total organic carbon concentrations of 1.9 mg/L. During remediation trials using produced water pretreated with activated carbon as the feed solution, there was a 14% decrease in flux over the course of the 7 h trials. The membrane performance was restored after washing.
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