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Abstract

Reverse osmosis separations of eight polyethylene glycol (PEG) solutes in the average molecular weight range of 200 to 6750 in single-solute dilute aqueous solutions have been studied using porous cellulose acetate membranes at the operating pressures of 50, 75, and 100 psig. Diffusivity data for the above PEG solutes have also been obtained from experimental data on intrinsic viscosities. From an analysis of all experimental data, numerical values for the parameters representing the polar (−ΔΔG/RT), steric (δ*ΣEs), and nonpolar (ω*Σs*) forces governing reverse osmosis separations of PEG solutes have been generated. These numerical values are useful for precise characterization of cellulose acetate membranes for whose specifications sodium chloride is not the appropriate reference solute because of its low or practically negligible separation under reverse osmosis operating conditions. This work also illustrates that solute separation in reverse osmosis can predictably increase or decrease with increase in operating pressure depending on experimental conditions.