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Issue 5, 2019
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Structural tailoring of hierarchical fibrous composite membranes to balance mass transfer and heat transfer for state-of-the-art desalination performance in membrane distillation

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Abstract

Membrane distillation (MD) displays superior characteristics to other technologies to alleviate the ever-increasing freshwater crisis through seawater desalination and/or wastewater recycling. However, the critical challenge in MD is fabricating high-performance membranes. In this study, we fabricated a high-performance hierarchical fibrous composite (HFC) membrane to acquire a high water flux while maintaining a high salt rejection for MD. This HFC membrane comprises of a thin active dense layer with small poly (vinylidene fluoride-co-hexafluoropropylene) (PH) nanofibers to allow maximum mass transfer and a thick support layer with large poly(ethylene terephthalate) (PET) microfibers to give minimum heat transfer. By tailoring the structures of both the active and support layers to reduce the trade-off between the mass transfer and heat transfer during the MD process, the optimized HFC membrane, having a 3 μm thick PH active layer and 70 μm thick PET support layer, achieved the highest reported water flux of 79.21 ± 4.17 L m−2 h−1 and the salt rejection was higher than 99.9% using 3.5 wt% NaCl as the feed under a temperature difference of 40 °C in direct contact membrane distillation (DCMD). Our study describes a novel HFC membrane which demonstrates great achievements in elevating the MD performance.

Graphical abstract: Structural tailoring of hierarchical fibrous composite membranes to balance mass transfer and heat transfer for state-of-the-art desalination performance in membrane distillation

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Supplementary files

Article information


Submitted
11 Nov 2018
Accepted
02 Jan 2019
First published
03 Jan 2019

J. Mater. Chem. A, 2019,7, 2376-2384
Article type
Paper

Structural tailoring of hierarchical fibrous composite membranes to balance mass transfer and heat transfer for state-of-the-art desalination performance in membrane distillation

X. An, G. Xu, B. Xie and Y. Hu, J. Mater. Chem. A, 2019, 7, 2376
DOI: 10.1039/C8TA10850A

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