Membrane Distillation

Membrane distillation (MD) uses a porous, hydrophobic membrane to separate water vapor from a warm, saline feed stream. Liquid water is unable to enter the membrane pores, but vapor can pass through to be condensed as purified liquid on the other side of the membrane. A number of configurations of MD are in use, particularly air-gap membrane distillation (AGMD) and direct-contact membrane distillation.

Our group has had a long-term interest in MD systems. We have explored solar-driven MD, multistage and batch MD, MD for high salinity feed, and membrane fouling in MD. We have aimed to improve the energy efficiency of these systems through thermodynamic analysis of the configurations and by balancing the counterflowing streams. We have also explored means of controlling the fouling of MD membranes. Our group was also the first to propose direct solar heating of MD membranes.

Selected Papers on Membrane Distillation

J. Swaminathan and J.H. Lienhard V, “Design and operation of membrane distillation with feed recirculation for high recovery brine concentration,” Desalination, online 2 August 2018, 445:51-62, 1 November 2018. (doi link) (preprint)

M. Rezaei, D.M. Warsinger, J.H. Lienhard V, M. Duke, T. Matsuura, W.M. Samhaber, “Wetting phenomena in membrane distillation: mechanisms, reversal and prevention,” Water Research, online 30 March 2018, 139:329-352, 1 August 2018. (doi link) (preprint)

D.M. Warsinger, J. Swaminathan, L.L. Morales, and J.H. Lienhard V, “Comprehensive condensation flow regimes in air gap membrane distillation: visualization and energy efficiency,” J. Membrane Science, online 21 March 2018, 555:517-528, 1 June 2018. (doi link) (preprint)

J. Swaminathan, H.W. Chung, D.M. Warsinger, J.H. Lienhard V, “Energy efficiency of membrane distillation at high salinity: evaluating critical system size and optimal membrane thickness,” Applied Energy, online 24 Nov. 2017, 211:715–734, 1 Feb. 2018. (doi link) (preprint)

Balancing a direct-contact membrane distillation module

Balancing a direct-contact membrane distillation module (Swaminathan et al., Applied Energy, 2018)

D.M. Warsinger, A. Servi, G. Connors, M.O. Mavukkandy, H.A. Arafat, K.K. Gleason, and J.H. Lienhard V, “Reversing wetting in membrane distillation: comparing dryout to backwashing with pressurized air,” Environmental Science: Water Research & Technology, 3(5):930-939, 13 July 2017. (doi link) (preprint)

M. Rezaei, D.M. Warsinger, J.H. Lienhard V, W.M. Samhaber, “Wetting prevention in membrane distillation through superhydrophobicity and recharging an air layer on the membrane surface,” J. Membrane Sci., online 12 Feb. 2017, 530:42-52, 15 May 2017. (doi link) (preprint)

D.M. Warsinger, E.W. Tow, J. Swaminathan, and J.H. Lienhard V, “Theoretical framework for predicting inorganic fouling in membrane distillation and experimental validation with calcium sulfate,” J. Membrane Sci., online 22 Jan. 2017, 528:381-390, 15 April 2017. (doi link) (preprint)

J. Swaminathan, H.W. Chung, D.M. Warsinger, and J.H. Lienhard V, “Membrane Distillation Model Based on Heat Exchanger Theory and Configuration Comparison,” online 23 Oct. 2016, Applied Energy, 184:491-505, 15 Dec. 2016. (doi link) (preprint)

D.M. Warsinger, A. Servi, S. Van Belleghem, J. Gonzalez, J. Swaminathan, J. Kharraz, H.W. Chung, H.A. Arafat, K.K. Gleason, and J.H. Lienhard V, “Combining Air Recharging and Membrane Superhydrophobicity for Fouling Prevention in Membrane Distillation,” J. Membrane Sci., online 14 January 2016, 505:241-252, 1 May 2016. (doi link) (preprint)

J. Swaminathan, H.W. Chung, D.M. Warsinger, J.H. Lienhard V, “Simple Method for Balancing Direct Contact Membrane Distillation,” Desalination, online 22 January 2016, 383:53-59, 1 April 2016. (doi link) (preprint)

J. Swaminathan, H.W. Chung, D.M. Warsinger, F. AlMarzooqi, H.A. Arafat, and J.H. Lienhard V, “Energy Efficiency of Permeate Gap and Novel Conductive Gap Membrane Distillation,” J. Membrane Sci., online 10 December 2015, 502:171–178, 15 March 2016. (doi link) (preprint)

H.W. Chung, J. Swaminathan, D.M. Warsinger, and J.H. Lienhard V, “Multistage vacuum membrane distillation (MSVMD) systems at high salinity,” J. Membrane Sci., online 15 Sept. 2015, 497:128–141, 1 Jan. 2016. (doi link) (preprint)

D.M. Warsinger, J. Swaminathan, L. Maswadeh, and J.H. Lienhard V, “Superhydrophobic Condenser Surfaces for Air Gap Membrane Distillation,” J. Membrane Sci., online 10 June 2015, 492:578–587, 15 Oct. 2015. (doi link) (preprint)

D.M. Warsinger, J. Swaminathan, E. Guillen, H.A. Arafat, and J.H. Lienhard V, “Scaling and Fouling In Membrane Distillation for Desalination Applications: A Review,” Desalination, 356:294-313, 15 January 2015. (doi link) (preprint)

E.K. Summers and J.H. Lienhard V,  “Experimental Study of Thermal Performance in Air Gap Membrane Distillation Systems including Direct Solar Heating of Membranes,” Desalination, 330:100-111, December 2013. (doi link)

E.K. Summers and J.H. Lienhard V,  “A Novel Solar Air-Gap Membrane Distillation System,” Desalination and Water Treatment, 51:1344–1351, Feb. 2013. (doi link)

M.I. Ali, E.K. Summers, H.A. Arafat, J.H. Lienhard V, “Effects of Membrane Properties on Water Production Cost in Small Scale Membrane Distillation Systems,” Desalination, 306:60–71, Nov. 2012. (doi link)

R. Saffarini, E.K. Summers, H.A. Arafat, J.H. Lienhard V, “Economic evaluation of stand-alone solar-powered membrane distillation systems,” Desalination, 299:55-62, August 2012. (doi link)

E.K. Summers, H.A. Arafat, and J.H. Lienhard V, “Energy efficiency comparison of single stage membrane distillation (MD) desalination cycles in different configurations,” Desalination, 290:54-66, Feb. 2012. (doi link)

R. Saffarini, E.K. Summers, H.A. Arafat, J.H. Lienhard V, “Technical evaluation of stand-alone solar-powered membrane distillation systems,” Desalination, 286:332–341, Feb. 2012. (doi link)