Scale-up of membrane distillation systems using bench-scale data

Mukta Hardikar, Itzel Marquez, Tenzin Phakdon, A. Eduardo Sáez, Andrea Achilli

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

22 Scopus citations


A procedure to design full-scale air gap membrane distillation (AGMD) processes is presented. A mathematical model was then developed for both direct contact membrane distillation (DCMD) and AGMD. The model is centered on solving local mass and energy balances using a finite difference approach. The full-scale model was calibrated by utilizing the membrane distillation coefficient (MDC) determined by DCMD bench-scale experiments, as the sole adjustable parameter. The MDC was then used to model the water production and energy efficiency of a spiral-wound AGMD full-scale element. The model yields accurate representation of full-scale AGMD elements using polytetrafluoroethylene (PTFE) and polyethylene (PE) membranes. Full-scale experimental results obtained over a wide range of feed flow rates (2 to 4.5 L/min), temperatures (40 to 80 °C), and salinities (0 to 200 g/L NaCl) confirmed that the developed procedure can be applied to model and design large-scale AGMD elements. Furthermore, the model guides the selection of specific temperature and flow conditions at a given salinity and element geometry to maximize water production and energy efficiency. This methodology is suitable for rapid evaluation of novel MD membranes performance in field AGMD applications.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number115654
StatePublished - May 15 2022


  • Energy efficiency
  • High salinity
  • Membrane distillation coefficient
  • Membrane element design
  • Scale-up modeling

ASJC Scopus subject areas

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


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