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Frontiers of Chemical Science and Engineering >> 2022, Volume 16, Issue 5 doi: 10.1007/s11705-021-2105-3

A review on membrane distillation in process engineering: design and exergy equations, materials and wetting problems

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One of the problems that most afflicts humanity is the lack of clean water. Water stress, which is the pressure on the quantity and quality of water resources, exists in many places throughout the World. Desalination represents a valid solution to the scarcity of fresh water and several technologies are already well applied and successful (such as reverse osmosis), producing about 100 million m3·d−1 of fresh water. Further advances in the field of desalination can be provided by innovative processes such as membrane distillation. The latter is of particular interest for the treatment of waste currents from conventional desalination processes (for example the retentate of reverse osmosis) as it allows to desalt highly concentrated currents as it is not limited by concentration polarization phenomena. New perspectives have enhanced research activities and allowed a deeper understanding of mass and heat transport phenomena, membrane wetting, polarization phenomena and have encouraged the use of materials particularly suitable for membrane distillation applications. This work summarizes recent developments in the field of membrane distillation, studies for module length optimization, commercial membrane modules developed, recent patents and advancement of membrane material.

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