Achieving sustainable operation for hypersaline membrane distillation applications: A novel strategy based on the critical Reynolds number
School of Chemistry and Chemical Engineering, South China University of Technology, Guangzhou 510640, PR China
Department of Chemical Engineering, KU Leuven, Celestijnenlaan 200F, B-3001 Leuven, Belgium
SCUT-Zhuhai Institute of Modern Industrial Innovation, 519175, PR China
Sustainable DCMD;CFD simulation;Membrane scaling;Hydrodynamic threshold;Critical Reynolds number;Hypersaline processing
National Natural Science Foundation of ChinaNational Natural Science Foundation of China (NSFC) ; Guangdong Natural Science FoundationNational Natural Science Foundation of Guangdong Province [2017A030313075]; Science and Technology Planning Project of Guangzhou, China ; Australian Research Council Discovery ProjectAustralian Research Council [DP170102391]
Membrane distillation is emerging as a promising alternative in zero liquid discharge and brine mining. However, the MD operation with hypersaline solutions is often interrupted by severe scaling formation on the membrane surface. This study aimed to establish a thermodynamic framework to achieve sustainable MD performance in hypersaline processing, enabling the prediction of an operational threshold, above which membrane scaling would not occur. With sodium chloride as the model solute, 2-dimensional temperature and concentration profiles were obtained in CFD to calculate the distribution of supersaturation ratio S in the DCMD flow channel. Through a comprehensive investigation on the effects of temperature and flow dynamics, a preliminary and conservative hydrodynamic threshold represented by a critical Reynolds number Re* at S = 1 was identified, below which scaling formation was inevitable. The relationship between Re* and dimensionless membrane flux (JM/rho vF1) collapsed into one decreasing line, resulting in a semi-empirical correlation and indicating that the operational window can be widened at an elevated feed temperature. Another empirical correlation of Re* was derived based on temperature inputs, providing fast and simple approaches to predict scaling-free operation zone. The hydrodynamic criterion proposed are essential towards establishing the general guideline for achieving sustainable operation in MD hypersaline processing.