With water scarcity a critical problem throughout the globe, scientists and engineers are pursuing new methods to harvest purified water from unconventional sources, like seawater and even wastewater.
A kind of researchers is Tiezheng Tong, an assistant professor within the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering, whose lab is learning an emerging technology called membrane distillation.
Membrane distillation includes a thin, water-repellent membrane that exploits vapor pressure variations between hotter impure liquid, referred to as “feedwater,” and colder purified water, known as “permeate.” Through the process, water vapor passes via the membrane and is separated from the salty or dirty feedwater. According to Tong, membrane distillation works higher than different technologies like reverse osmosis, which can’t treat extremely salty water such as desalination brines or produced water from hydraulic fracturing.
While it holds promise, membrane distillation doesn’t work completely. A key challenge is designing membranes to purify water effectively while making certain zero contamination of the clean water.
Tong and supplies scientist Arun Kota within the Department of Mechanical Engineering joined forces to get at the fundamental science behind designing that perfect membrane. In new experiments they describe in Nature Communications, the CSU researchers supply new data into why sure membrane designs utilized in membrane distillation work better than others.
“The basic knowledge from our paper improves mechanistic understanding on the water-vapor transport inside microporous substrates and has the potential to guide the long run design of membranes utilized in membrane distillation,” Tong mentioned.