Membrane distillation against a pressure difference

L. Keulen, L.V. van der Ham, N.J.M. Kuipers, J.H. Hanemaaijer, T.J.H. Vlugt, S. Kjelstrup*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

24 Citations (Scopus)


Membrane distillation is an attractive technology for production of fresh water from seawater. The MemPower® concept, studied in this work, uses available heat (86 °C) to produce pressurized water (2.2 bar and 46 °C) by membrane distillation, which again can be used to power a turbine for co-production of electricity. We develop a non-equilibrium thermodynamic model to accurately describe the transfer at the liquid-membrane interfaces, as well as through the hydrophobic membrane. The model can explain the observed mass flux, and shows that 85% of the energy is dissipated at the membrane-permeate interface. It appears that the system's performance will benefit from a lower interface resistance to heat transfer, in particular at the permeate side of the membrane. The nature of the membrane polymer and the pore diameter may play a role in this context.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)151-162
Number of pages12
JournalJournal of Membrane Science
Publication statusPublished - 15 Feb 2017
Externally publishedYes


  • Heat and mass transfer
  • Irreversible thermodynamics
  • Membrane distillation
  • MemPower
  • Water desalination


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