Performance evaluation of the DCMD desalination process under bench scale and large scale module operating conditions
L. Francis, N. Ghaffour, A.S. Alsaadi, S.P. Nunes, G.L. Amy
Journal of Membrane Science, 455, pp. 103-112, (2014)
The flux performance of different hydrophobic microporous flat sheet commercial membranes made of poly tetrafluoroethylene (PTFE) and poly propylene (PP) was tested for Red Sea water desalination using the direct contact membrane distillation (DCMD) process, under bench scale (high ΔT) and large scale module (low ΔT) operating conditions. Membranes were characterized for their surface morphology, water contact angle, thickness, porosity, pore size and pore size distribution. The DCMD process performance was optimized using a locally designed and fabricated module aiming to maximize the flux at different levels of operating parameters, mainly feed water and coolant inlet temperatures at different temperature differences across the membrane (ΔT). Water vapor flux of 88.8 kg/m2 h was obtained using a PTFE membrane at high ΔT (60 °C). In addition, the flux performance was compared to the first generation of a new locally synthesized and fabricated membrane made of a different class of polymer under the same conditions. A total salt rejection of 99.99% and boron rejection of 99.41% were achieved under extreme operating conditions. On the other hand, a detailed water characterization revealed that low molecular weight non-ionic molecules (ppb level) were transported with the water vapor molecules through the membrane structure. The membrane which provided the highest flux was then tested under large scale module operating conditions. The average flux of the latter study (low ΔT) was found to be eight times lower than that of the bench scale (high ΔT) operating conditions.