The coming of membrane distillation technology

Membrane distillation (MD) is a unit operation that uses hydrophobic membranes as a barrier for contaminated water from which mass transport of vapor is driven by differences in vapor pressure. MD does not require a mechanical pressure pump, and temperature levels are such that low-grade heat sources may be used to supply the required energy for the process. It is therefore ideal for treatment of industrial effluents and for desalination in co-generation with thermal solar power plants. This article assesses membrane distillation, a technology that the author believes is becoming increasingly relevant, particularly for use with renewable energies and in less developed countries. The recent promotion of the Desertec energy creation project in the Sahara is just one opportunity he sees for the technology.

Membrane distillation (MD) is a unit operation that uses hydrophobic membranes as a barrier for contaminated water from which mass transport of vapor is driven by differences in vapor pressure.

MD does not require a mechanical pressure pump, and temperature levels are such that low-grade heat sources may be used to supply the required energy for the process. It is therefore ideal for treatment of industrial effluents and for desalination in co-generation with thermal solar power plants.

This article assesses membrane distillation, a technology that the author believes is becoming increasingly relevant, particularly for use with renewable energies and in less developed countries. The recent promotion of the Desertec energy creation project in the Sahara is just one opportunity he sees for the technology.


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