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Comment Water Treatment

CNT membrane aids distillation of brine

By Chemical Engineering |

Membrane distillation (MD) — a thermal desalination technique used for recovering pure water from concentrated salt solutions — is hampered by high energy consumption, low single-pass recovery rates and by the need to use expensive heat exchangers to handle the high corrosivity of hot brines. A newly developed membrane based on carbon nanotubes (CNTs) layered with polyvinyl alcohol (PVA) can significantly simplify MD system design by eliminating heat exchangers, while also improving the water recovery rates by almost an order of magnitude. The new membrane, developed by a research group at the University of California at Riverside (www.ucr.edu) led by David Jassby, could allow much more effective and efficient MD of brines, such as those from reverse osmosis waste and produced water from hydraulic fracturing operations. The researchers recently published details of the membrane in the journal Nature Nanotechnology. Conventional MD works when hydrophobic membranes allow passage of salt-free water vapor, while preventing the passage of liquid water and salt. But the single-pass water recovery rates for membrane distillation are limited to 10% or lower, the researchers say. Also, MD’s reliance on a constant stream of hot brine…
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