Understanding the effect of membrane interfacial wetting properties on membrane distillation flux

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8 Scopus citations


Membrane distillation (MD) is promising for many applications such as seawater desalination. Designing membranes with high vapor flux is preferred to achieve high efficiency. However, understanding of effects of the membrane interfacial wetting properties on the vapor flux in MD is still missing. Here, elucidating this effect by theoretical and experimental tools is presented. Three interfacial wetting properties are identified, namely slip vs. non-slip, wetting vs. non-wetting and rough evaporation interface. While superhydrophobic surfaces of the membrane offer slippage of fluid, the effect of the slip condition has little effect on the heat and mass transfer in MD due to the relatively small slip length. When the fluid penetrates into and wets the membrane, the vapor flux increases due to the shortened vapor transport distance although the stagnant penetration layer hinders heat transfer. The rough evaporation interface with increased evaporation area does not necessarily significantly increase vapor flux. The rough evaporation problem can be reduced to an equivalent partial wetting problem with a certain wetting depth. This work clarifies the role of membrane interfacial wetting properties in vapor flux variation, which provides guidance for future membrane interfacial design to enhance vapor flux in MD.
Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)116260
StatePublished - Nov 24 2022

Bibliographical note

KAUST Repository Item: Exported on 2022-12-01
Acknowledgements: The research reported in this paper was supported by King Abdullah University of Science and Technology (KAUST), Saudi Arabia. The authors thank Dr. Sofiane Soukane for the discussion on theoretical simulations.

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Water Science and Technology
  • General Materials Science
  • General Chemical Engineering
  • General Chemistry
  • Mechanical Engineering


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