As the population grows, one issue that is continually being addressed is the lack of clean water resources. In order to explore viable solutions, rapid experimentation and research has been underway to alleviate the water crisis. With the addition of new emerging technology, the development, improvement, and understanding of various techniques used to treat non-potable water has expanded. One subcategory of water filtration in particular that has seen rapid growth is Membrane Distillation (MD). MD is a filtration process that utilizes thermal energy to desalinate and decontaminate water. Compared to current industry leading techniques such as reverse osmosis, MD does not require such large operating pressures, leading to less power consumption. MD is accomplished primarily by flowing contaminated feed water at elevated temperatures across semi-permeable membranes. The membranes used are made to allow water vapors to penetrate through and separate from the contaminated liquid portion. By maintaining a temperature difference across the membrane, a pressure gradient is created, which drives the vapor of feed water through the pores in the membrane. Once the vapor passes through the membrane, it condenses through various methods and is collected. Air Gap Membrane Distillation (AGMD) has shown significant ability to desalinate water effectively in small scales. The air gap between the membrane and condensation plate minimizes heat loss through conduction, making AGMD a more attractive option for upscaling. In this project a laboratory-scale test cell was developed to test AGMD using different membranes, and operational parameters. In order to test such parameters, a unique design with baffled channels to induce turbulence was designed and manufactured. Feed water and coolant temperature differences, flow rates, membrane porosity, and air gap thickness are among the parameters that has been studied in this research. Temperatures of the hot feed were varied from 40°C to 80°C while the cold feed temperature was kept at a near constant temperature of 0°C. Flow rates of feed water and coolant water range from 1 to 3 L/Min. It was observed that the permeate flux is an increasing function of feed water temperature and membrane porosity. The air gap thickness plays a major role in permeate flux and energy consumption of the system.

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