Factors Affecting Membrane Distillation Process for Seawater Desalination


  • Ngo Thi Tra My Faculty of Environment and Natural Resources, Ho Chi Minh City University of Technology, Vietnam
  • Vo Thi Yen Nhi Faculty of Environment and Natural Resources, Ho Chi Minh City University of Technology, Vietnam
  • Bui Xuan Thanh Faculty of Environment and Natural Resources, Ho Chi Minh City University of Technology, Vietnam




Membrane distillation (MD), a process based on the thermal principle, is a combination of distillation and membrane separation in the same unit. There are many factors that can affect the MD performance, but the membrane characteristics are the most important in this process. The changes in the membrane properties affect the process efficiency, the permeate flux as well as the membrane lifetime. Some of the membrane properties mentioned in this paper include liquid entry pressure (LEP), contact angle, pore size, porosity, thickness, thermal conductivity, support layer, tortuosity, etc. This review paper aims to evaluate the membrane properties in order to reduce membrane wetting and to improve desalination efficiency. From this review, it can be seen that the LEP and contact angle are the important factors which directly affect the hydrophobicity of the membrane. When LEP and the contact angle increase, the hydrophobicity of the membrane increases. Thus, the membrane is durable and the MD system works efficiently. The remaining factors indirectly affect the operation of the MD system through LEP and contact angle (hydrophobicity).


M. M. Mekonnen, A. Y. Hoekstra. 2016. Four Billion People Facing Severe Water Scarcity. Sci. Adv. 2: 1-6.

J. Deshpande, K. Nithyanandam, R. Pitchumani. 2017. Analysis and Design of Direct Contact Membrane Distillation. J. Membr. Sci. 523: 301-316.

M. R. Qtaishat, F. Banat. 2013. Desalination by Solar-powered Membrane Distillation Systems. Desalination. 308: 186-197.

A. F. Ismail, K. C. Khulbe, T. Matsuura. 2017. Recent Progress in Reverse Osmosis (RO) Science and Technology. J. Applied Membrane Science & Technology. 21: 1-10.

J. Morillo, J. Usero, D. Rosado, H. E. Bakouri, A. Riaza, F. J. Bernaola. 2014. Comparative Study of Brine Management Technologies for Desalination Plants. Desalination. 336: 32-49.

A. Laorko, S. Tongchitpakdee, W. Youravong. 2015. Economic Assessment for Cold Sterilization and Clarification of Pineapple Juice and Coconut Water Using Microfiltration. J. Applied Membrane Science & Technology. 17: 35-46.

A. M. Elzahaby, A. E. Kabeel, M. M. Bassuoni, A. R. A. Elbar. 2016. Direct Contact Membrane Water Distillation Assisted with Solar Energy. Energy Conversion and Management. 110: 397-406.

L. M. Camacho, L. Dumée, J. Zhang, J. Li, M. Duke, J. Gomez, S. Gray. 2013. Advances in Membrane Distillation for Water Desalination and Purification Applications: A Review. Water. 5: 94-196.

A. M. Alklaibi, N. Lior. 2005. Membrane-distillation Desalination: Status and Potential. Desalination. 171: 111-131.

W. T. Hanbury, T. Hodgkiess. 1985. Membrane Distillation—An Assessment. Desalination. 56: 287-297.

A. Alkhudhiri, N. Darwish, N. Hilal. 2012. Membrane Distillation: A Comprehensive Review. Desalination. 287: 2-18.

A. Subramani and J. G. Jacangelo. 2015. Review: Emerging Desalination Technologies for Water Treatment: A Critical Review. Water Research. 75: 164-187.

L. D. Tijing, Y. C. Woo, J. S. Choi, S. Lee, S. H. Kim, H. K. Shon. 2015. Fouling and Its Control in Membrane Distillation—A Review. J. Membr. Sci. 475: 215-244.

D. M. Warsinger, J. Swaminathan, E. Guillen-Burrieza, H. A. Arafat, J. H. Lienhard. 2015. Scaling and Fouling in Membrane Distillation for Desalination Applications: A Review. Desalination. 356: 294-313.

E. Drioli, A. Ali, F. Macedonio. 2015. Membrane Distillation: Recent Developments and Perspectives. Desalination. 356: 56-84.

B. B. Ashoor, S. Mansour, A. Giwa, V. Dufour, S. W. Hasan. 2016. Principles and Applications of Direct Contact Membrane Distillation (DCMD): A Comprehensive Review. Desalination. 398: 222-246.

M. Khayet. 2011. Membranes and Theoretical Modeling of Membrane Distillation: A Review. Adv. Colloid Interface Sci. 164: 56-88.

L. Eykens, K. De Sitter, C. Dotremont, L. Pinoy, B. Van der Bruggen. 2017. Membrane Synthesis for Membrane Distillation: A Review. Sep. Purif. Technol. 182: 36-51.

M. E. Findley. 1967. Vaporization through Porous Membranes. Ind. Eng. Chem. Proc. Des. Dev. 6: 226-230.

L. Eykens, I. Hitsov, K. De Sitter, C. Dotremont, L. Pinoy, I. Nopens, B. Van der Bruggen. 2016. Influence of Membrane Thickness and Process Conditions on Direct Contact Membrane Distillation at Different Salinities. J. Membr. Sci. 498: 353-364.

J. Li, Y. Guan, F. Cheng, Y. Liu. 2015. Treatment of High Salinity Brines by Direct Contact Membrane Distillation: Effect of Membrane Characteristics and Salinity. Chemosphere. 140: 143-149.

T. Zhou, Y. Yao, R. Xiang, Y. Wu. 2014. Formation and Characterization of Polytetrafluoroethylene Nanofiber Membranes for Vacuum Membrane Distillation. J. Membr. Sci. 453: 402-408.

K. W. Lawson, D. R. Lloyd. 1997. Membrane Distillation. J. Membr. Sci. 124: 1-25.

C. Gostoli, G.C. Sarti. 1989. Separation of Liquid Mixtures by Membrane Distillation. J. Membr. Sci. 41: 211-224.

J. Ge, Y. Peng, Z. Li, P. Chen, S. Wang. 2014. Membrane Fouling and Wetting in a DCMD Process for RO Brine Concentration. Desalination. 344: 97-107.

Y. Yuan, T. R. Lee. 2013. Contact Angle and Wetting Properties. Surf. Sci. Tech. 51: 3-34.

A. K. Fard, Y. Manawi. 2014. Seawater Desalination for Production of Highly Pure Water Using a Hydrophobic PTFE Membrane and Direct Contact Membrane Distillation (DCMD). WASET. 8: 391-399.

S. N. W. Ikhsan, N. Abdullah, N. Yusof, F. Aziz, N. Misdan, N. H. H. Hairom. 2017. Polyethersulfone/HFO Mixed Matrix Membrane for Enhanced Oily Wastewater Rejection. J. Applied Membrane Science & Technology. 20: 11-17.

H. Zhu, H. Wang, F. Wang, Y. Guo, H. Zhang, J. Chen. 2013. Preparation and Properties of PTFE Hollow Fiber Membranes for Desalination Through Vacuum Membrane Distillation. J. Membr. Sci. 446: 145-153.

Y. Z. Tan, J. W. Chew, W. B. Krantz. 2016. Effect of Humic-acid Fouling on Membrane Distillation. J. Membr. Sci. 504: 263-273.

X. Yu, H. Yang, H. Lei, A. Shapiro. 2013. Experimental Evaluation on Concentrating Cooling Tower Blowdown Water by Direct Contact Membrane Distillation. Desalination. 323: 134-141.

M. M. A. Shirazia, A. Kargari, M. Tabatabaei. 2014. Evaluation of Commercial PTFE Membranes in Desalination by Direct Contact Membrane Distillation. Chem. Eng. Process. 76: 16-25.

A. Khalifa, H. Ahmada, M. Antar, T Laoui, M. Khayet. 2017. Experimental and Theoretical Investigations on Water Desalination Using Direct Contact Membrane Distillation. Desalination. 404: 22-34.

R. Naim, S. Abdullah. 2015. Membrane Wetting in Membrane Contactor System: A Review. J. Applied Membrane Science & Technology. 17: 9-15.

S. Adnan, M. Hoang, H. Wang, Z. Xie. 2012. Commercial PTFE Membranes for Membrane Distillation Application: Effect of Microstructure and Support Material. Desalination. 284: 297-308.

A. Ali, C.A. Quist-Jensen, F. Macedonio, E. Drioli. 2016. On Designing of Membrane Thickness and Thermal Conductivity for Large-Scale Membrane Distillation Modules. JMSR. 2: 179-185.

K. He, H. J. Hwang, M. W. Woo, I. S. Moon. 2017. Production of Drinking Water from Saline Water by Direct Contact Membrane Distillation (DCMD). Journal of Industrial and Engineering Chemistry. 17: 41-48.

Z. Lia, Y. Peng, Y. Dong, H. Fan, P. Chen, L. Qiu, Q. Jiang. 2014. Effects of Thermal Efficiency in DCMD and the Preparation of Membranes with Low Thermal Conductivity. Appl. Surf. Sci. 317: 338-349.

A. Luo, N. Lior. 2017. Study of Advancement to Higher Temperature Membrane Distillation. Desalination. 419: 88-100.

M. Khayet, T. Matsuura, J.I. Mengual, M. Qtaishat. 2006. Design of Novel Direct Contact Membrane Distillation Membranes. Desalination. 192: 105-111.

P. Wang, T. S. Chung. 2015. Recent Advances in Membrane Distillation Processes: Membrane Development, Configuration Design and Application Exploring. J. Membr. Sci. 474: 39-56.

S. B. Iversen, V. K. Bhatia, K. Dam-Johansen, G. Jonsson. 1997. Characterization of Microporous Membranes for Use in Membrane Contactors. J. Membr. Sci. 130: 205-217.




How to Cite

Thi Tra My, N., Thi Yen Nhi, V., & Xuan Thanh, B. (2018). Factors Affecting Membrane Distillation Process for Seawater Desalination. Journal of Applied Membrane Science & Technology, 22(1). https://doi.org/10.11113/amst.v22n1.126