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Numerical Modeling and Performance Evaluation of Vacuum Membrane Distillation for Energy-Efficient Seawater Desalination: Towards Energy-Efficient Solutions

Lookup NU author(s): Dr Jie ZhangORCiD



This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License (CC BY 4.0).


Vacuum membrane distillation (VMD) is a compelling technique for desalinating waterbecause it exhibits superior pure water permeability at lower operating temperatures compared toother membrane distillation technologies. This leads to reduced energy consumption, lower heatloss via conduction across the membrane surface, and minimal heat transfer through conduction dueto the low pressure on the permeate side. Detailed modelling of heat and mass transfer in VMD isessential for optimizing the process as it provides valuable insights that contribute to the advancementand successful implementation of seawater desalination using VMD technology. The aim of thisstudy is to establish a comprehensive numerical model that describes the water vapor transfer acrossa hydrophobic micro-porous membrane in single-stage and multi-stage VMD processes for seawaterdesalination. The numerical predictions were compared to experimental data in addition to numericalcomputations based on an existing literature database, and good agreement has been found. Theinvestigation also conducted a sensitivity analysis of process variables and membrane specificationson the VMD performance, as well as an assessment of the impact of temperature and concentrationpolarization. The obtained results showed that the permeation flux reached 18.42 kg/m2h at 35 g/Lfeed concentration, 65 C feed temperature, 50 L/h feed flow rate, and 3 kPa vacuum pressure.Moreover, the findings revealed that the feed temperature was the most significant factor, whilethe feed flow rate was the least important in determining the permeation flux. Additionally, thefindings suggested that the effectiveness of the VMD process heavily relies on the composition andpermeability of the support materials. Finally, the results confirmed that temperature polarizationhad a more significant effect on the reduction of the permeate flux than the concentration polarization.

Publication metadata

Author(s): Triki Z, Fergani Z, Lekmine S, Tahraoui H, Amrane A, Zamouche M, Kebir M, Assadi AA, Khezami L, Zhang J

Publication type: Article

Publication status: Published

Journal: Water

Year: 2023

Volume: 15

Issue: 20

Online publication date: 16/10/2023

Acceptance date: 05/10/2023

Date deposited: 23/11/2023

ISSN (electronic): 2073-4441

Publisher: MDPI AG


DOI: 10.3390/w15203612


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Funder referenceFunder name
the Deanship of Scientific Research at Imam Mohammad Ibn Saud Islamic University (IMSIU) IMSIU-RP23013