Postdoctoral Research Associate Shihong Lin of Yale University will present, "Membrane Distillation for Enhancing Sustainability at the Water-Energy-Environment Nexus."
Membrane distillation (MD) is an emerging membrane-based thermal separation process capable of utilizing widely available low-grade waste heat for desalination and water reuse. MD represents a promising technological opportunity for improving sustainability at the water-energy nexus. This presentation first focuses on a module-scale analysis of an MD system with heat recovery. The analysis provides important insights into the thermodynamic limits of energy efficiency and the important operational factors that influence system performance, which are critical for scaling up and optimizing the MD process. The second part of the presentation briefly introduces the concept of a novel process called osmotic-heat-engine in which pressure retarded osmosis (and other membrane-based process) is coupled with MD to convert low-grade thermal energy to electricity. The last part of the presentation demonstrates the possibility of fabricating amphiphobic MD membranes that can repel both water and oil by controlling the surface morphology using nanoparticles with tailored surface-functional groups. The amphiphobic MD membrane is demonstrated to be superior to conventional hydrophobic MD membranes in that it can be applied to treat water with contaminants of low surface tension (e.g., hydraulic fracturing wastewater or municipal wastewater).