Forward osmosis (FO) has emerged as a potentially energy-efficient membrane treatment technology to yield high-quality reusable water from various wastewater/saline water sources. A key challenge remained to be solved for FO is reverse solute flux (RSF), which can cause issues like reduced concentration gradient and loss of draw solutes. Yet no universal parameters have been developed to compare RSF control performance among various studies, making it difficult to position us in this “battle” against RSF. In this paper, we have conducted a concise review of existing RSF reduction approaches, including operational strategies (e.g., pressure-, electrolysis-, and ultrasound-assisted osmosis) and advanced membrane development (e.g., new membrane fabrication and existing membrane modification). We have also analyzed the literature data to reveal the current status of RSF reduction. A new parameter, mitigation ratio (MR), was proposed and used together with specific RSF (SRSF) to evaluate RSF reduction performance. Potential research directions have been discussed to help with future RSF control. This review intends to shed more light on how to effectively tackle solute leakage towards a more cost-effective and environmental-friendly FO treatment process.
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